8 Mar 2018

Cyclone Hola upgraded to category four, could hit NZ

10:54 am on 8 March 2018

Another cyclone gathering force to the north-west of New Zealand is now a category four storm.

The latest tracking threat map for the category 4 Cyclone Hola.

The latest tracking threat map for the category 4 Cyclone Hola. Photo: Fiji metservice

Fiji's MetService says Hola is tracking slowly away from Vanuatu towards New Caledonia.

As it moves south west from Vanuatu's Malekula, Hola is intensifying and forecasters say sustained winds of up to 165km/h should be expected.

They could increase to 203km/h.

It is expected to move to the south east later and pose a threat for New Caledonia.

The Vanuatu weather office said damaging gale force winds of 75km/h will continue through today to affect Malampa province while destructive storm force winds of 130km/h gusting to 160km/h are forecast over the next 24 hours.

Very destructive hurricane-force winds of up to 175km/h gusting to 185km/h will affect Malekula.

New Zealand MetService forecaster Tom Adams said it's still unclear whether it will hit New Zealand.

Mr Adams said a lot of the models were taking the storm east of New Zealand, but that a tropical cyclone did not need to make a direct impact to affect the country.

"You can still get very strong winds, big swells, and heavy rain when a tropical cyclone tracks off-shore," he said.

Mr Adams said MetService is closely monitoring the storm and will know more later today.