Pacific cyclone in July a freak event

1:19 pm on 1 July 2015

A tropical cyclone heading towards Solomon Islands is a freak out-of-season event.

Tropical Cyclone Raquel, south of the equator.

Tropical Cyclone Raquel, south of the equator. Photo: Metservice

The New Zealand Metservice says the Category 1 cyclone, named Raquel, is the first on record to form in July in northern Melanesia.

The cyclone season typically runs from November to April.

Cyclone Raquel is expected to intensify over the next 24 hours as it approaches the Solomons.

Metservice meteorologist Georgina Griffiths says a cyclone in this region is unheard of at this time of year.

"In the early records, several lows were found to form in June or July in that Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea area but they were subsequently found not to be a fully blown tropical cyclone so this looks to be the first tropical system that has developed and been named in the Brisbane area of responsibility."

Ms Griffiths says records of cyclones in the Pacific are patchy and it is possible out-of-season cyclones were missed by forecasters prior to satellite monitoring being introduced.

Metservice said Cyclone Raquel was about 355km north of the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara and moving about 13 kilometres per hour.

Forecaster Micky Malivuk said the cyclone should gradually intensify over the day.

"It will probably turn Category 2 by tomorrow morning, and by then it will be near Choiseul, and the winds will pick up and also heavy rain."

Continuous heavy rains fall in Solomon Islands caused by Cyclone Pam in the country's east heading South East and away to Vanuatu.

In March, Cyclone Pam brought heavy rain to Solomon Islands before heading south-east towards Vanuatu. Photo: RNZ / Margaret Maealasia