11 Mar 2013

Tropical Cyclone Sandra heads for New Caledonia

12:37 pm on 11 March 2013

Tropical Cyclone Sandra is now nearing the Belep Islands in New Caledonia.

According to the metservice, the system's centre is expected to be west of Belep by tonight.

It has sustained winds of 140 kilometres an hour, with gusts in excess of 200 kilometres an hour.

It is forecast to move slowly in a south-easterly direction, parallel to the main island's west coast, and weaken.

At the beginning of the year, New Caledonia's north was hit by tropical depression Freda, which caused damage worth ten million US dollars.

A tropical cyclone warning is still in force for much of the Solomon Islands, but Rick Threlfall, a forecaster at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, says the cyclone has veered to the south of the Solomon Islands.

He says forecasters aren't expecting any major threat to the area.

"It's currently about 850 kilometres north-west of Noumea in New Caledonia so it's actually moving southeast away from the Solomons and we're not actually seeing any gales affecting the Solomon Islands anymore so generally the wind's easing in that area as it moves away to the south-east."