18 Feb 2005

Olaf now very unlikely to make landfall in southern Cook Islands

2:24 pm on 18 February 2005

The Fiji Met Service says cyclone Olaf is expected to continue heading away from any inhabited islands.

A short time ago, (At 0000 UTC), Olaf was 370 kilometres southwest of Palmerston and 530 kilometres northwest of Rarotonga.

After moving east southeast this morning, the cyclone is now curving due southeast, with winds of 215 kilometres per hour near its centre, gusting up to 290 kph.

Forecaster Angela Prasad says a gale warning remains in force for Palmerston, Rarotonga and Mangaia.

"The eye of the cyclone should stay over open seas throughout its lifetime. It's highly unlikely for it to divert and move over the Cooks at this stage. So just the area of gales affecting Palmerston, because Palmerston is within the gale radius. And winds are already increasing over Rarotonga, so winds are"

increasing there now.

Angela Prasad from the Fiji Met Office