9 Apr 2017

Tropical Cyclone Cook hits Vanuatu, strengthens

1:01 pm on 9 April 2017
Cyclone Cook bound for New Caledonia

Cyclone Cook bound for New Caledonia Photo: RSMC Nadi Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

A tropical cyclone over Vanuatu is strenghtening and moving away towards New Caledonia.

Cyclone Cook is now a category two storm with its centre about 70 kilometres west of Vanuatu's main island, Efate, and about 100 kilometres southwest of Epi.

The cyclone is slow moving and is forecast to strengthen to a category 3 storm overnight as it crosses towards New Caledonia whose main island is expected to be hit tomorrow.

The Vanuatu met office says the cyclone is forecast to strengthen and have winds gusting to 130 km/h close to its centre today.

A red alert is in force for Vanuatu's Malampa and Shefa province, with destructive winds and very rough seas expected.

The Daily Post says a report has come in that a ship has sunk off Ambrym.

Four flights between Noumea and Port Vila have been cancelled.

A pre-alert has been issued in New Caledonia for heavy rain and destructive winds.

The system is forecast to move into the Tasman Sea later in the week.