27 Feb 2010

Cook Islands brace for another tropical cyclone

11:14 am on 27 February 2010

The Cook Islands are again bracing for another tropical cyclone.

A tropical cyclone alert has been issued for Aitutaki and a gale warning is in force for Palmerston in the Southern Cook Islands.

Tropical cyclone Sarah is the fifth cyclone to form near the Cook Islands in six weeks.

Lead forecaster at the Fiji Met Service, Matt Boterhoven, has the latest on the category two storm.

"We have some mean winds close to the centre of 35 knots and we are expecting the winds to increase close to the centre up above 48 knots in the next 24 hours as it moves in a south easterly direction."

Matt Boterhoven also says a strong wind warning reminds in force for the rest of the Southern Cook Islands.

Meanwhile, an Airforce relief mission with supplies for Penryhn in the northern Cook Islands has just left Raratonga after a delay caused by the cyclone warning.

Squadron leader Kavae Tamariki says the Cook Islands government requested the help last Tuesday after tropical depression 11-F damaged buildings on Sunday.