The category three tropical cyclone Ula continues to strengthen in seas to the east of Vanuatu, and forecasters say it could move towards the island of Tanna.
Tanna was one of the areas worst-hit by the category five cyclone Pam in March last year, and has been suffering from the impacts of drought caused by this year's El Niño system.
A forecaster at Vanuatu's meteorological service, Ellen Luke, says the system is currently about 500 kilometres east of Tafea province, and predicted to move to the south before it reaches the islands.
However, she says the cyclone has changed path three times in the past 36-hours, and the slow-moving and intensifying system could keep to its current path.
"If it's going in the direction of southwest it will be passing slightly away from the islands, but if it's maintaining its west direction then it's likely that it will cross the Tafea islands."
Ellen Luke says even if the cyclone does move away, people in the southern half of Vanuatu should not go out to sea, and prepare for strong winds and torrential rain that could cause flooding.
- As of Saturday afternoon, a Tropical Cyclone Advisory is current.
- Ula is positioned about 480 km east-northeast of Tanna.
- The system is moving west at about 5km/h - generally, a slow moving cyclone in warm waters give them time to intensify
- Winds close to Ula's centre are currently estimated at 130km/h, but are expected to intensify further.
- Vanuatu's Meteorological Service says the system does not yet pose a threat to any islands. However, seas in the country's south will become rough to very rough this afternoon/evening.
- Strong wind and heavy rain warnings have been issued for Vanuatu's southern islands.
Source: Vanuatu Meteorological Service