18 Feb 2019

Cyclone Oma: Alerts lifted in Vanuatu provinces

2:58 pm on 18 February 2019

The red alert for Vanuatu's Sanma province and the yellow alert for Malampa province have been cancelled as Tropical Cyclone Oma moves away from the country.

Tropical Cyclone Forecast Track Map Number 47 issued at 9:44 am VUT on Monday 18 February 2019.

Tropical Cyclone Forecast Track Map Number 47 issued at 9:44 am VUT on Monday 18 February 2019. Photo: Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department

The Vanuatu Meteorology Department said at 8am local time the category two storm was about 385 kilometres west-southwest of Malekula, and moving away from the country in a southwesterly direction at 14km/h.

However, people are advised to continue listening to the radio in case the cyclone turns back towards Vanuatu.

Gusts of 150km/h are expected to affect areas within 150 kms from the centre of the system but are expected to weaken as the cyclone continues to move further away.

Heavy rainfall and flash flooding over low lying areas and areas close to river banks, including coastal flooding are expected to continue to affect northern and central islands today.

Strong inland winds are also expected over the islands of northern and central provinces.

Seas will remain very rough to phenomenal with heavy to phenomenal swells throughout Vanuatu.

People are strongly advised not to go to sea until the system has moved further away.

New Caledonia prepares for arrival of Oma

Meanwhile, authorities in New Caledonia have issued a range of warnings as Cyclone Oma moves towards the territory.

The cyclone, which is strengthening, is forecast to move within 100km of Belep - an island above New Caledonia's main island - in the next day.

The Meteorological Service in Noumea said Belep and the far north of the main island could experience winds gusting as high as 170 km/h on Tuesday.

A level two cyclone alert has been issued for the northern province, where emergency shelters have already been opened and schools ordered shut.

The Civil Security department says damaging winds, flooding and very rough seas can be expected.

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