27 Mar 2007

Tropical Cyclone Becky off the northwest of Vanuatu

8:32 am on 27 March 2007

A tropical cyclone has formed northwest of Vanuatu and is expected to intensify into within the next six hours.

Cyclone Becky, which is currently located 440 kilometres off Vanuatu, is moving in a south-easterly direction, with winds of 80 to 85 kilometres per hour.

The Vanuatu Met Service says if it keeps to its projected track, it will cause damaging storm force winds over Torres and Banks islands in the next six to twelve hours while damaging gale force winds are expected over Espiritu Santo, Malekula, Pentecost and Ambrym, and associated areas within 18 hours.

The lead forecaster at the New Zealand Met Service, Gerard Barrow, says the cyclone is on track to hit the north-west of Vanuatu early tomorrow.

"It looks like its heading towards Espiritu Santo, which is in the northwest of Vanuatu and it is very likely, that if it does continue to intensify and keep on that track, the island could experience damaging winds and heavy rain as well."

Gerard Barrow.