Vanuatu + 1 more

Vanuatu braces for possible late season topical cyclone

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Vanuatu's weather bureau has issued a cyclone warning as a tropical disturbance intensifies over the country's north-east.

Meteorologists predict the system will develop into a cyclone on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, 24 hours earlier than originally expected.

It is expected to reach category two level by Monday morning.

A long range forecast shows the cyclone could hit southern New Caledonia on Tuesday.

Local media is reporting gale-force winds over remote islands in the east of the Pacific archipelago, which were devastated by Cyclone Pam two years ago.

Neville Koop from the Nadraki weather service said the cyclone could be even stronger than category two, judging by the recent experience of Cyclone Debbie in Australia.

"When that was in this same stage, we were thinking category one or two for Debbie," he said.

"But of course once it developed and we could see more about its structure and so forth, it became quickly very apparent that it could be stronger than that."

Vanuatu Meteorological Services said winds close to the centre were estimated at 55 kilometres per hour, and could increase to 75kph by Sunday.

Fiji Meteorological Service, which is the agency responsible for naming cyclones that occur in Vanuatu waters, said if the tropical disturbance did form into a cyclone, it would be named Cook.

The disturbance comes at the end of the official cyclone season, which runs from November to April.

Parts of Vanuatu are still rebuilding after the category five Cyclone Pam struck on March 13, 2015.

It left 11 people dead and hundreds of thousands of others in need of food, water and shelter.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation