23 Oct 2006

Cyclone Xavier batters southern Solomons and threatens north of Vanuatu

8:34 am on 23 October 2006

A tropical cyclone is continuing to cause extreme wind conditions in the south of the Solomons and is predicted to threaten the islands in the north of Vanuatu.

Tropical cyclone Xavier developed rapidly over the weekend and is now bringing hurricane force winds to the Santa Cruz islands in the Solomons.

The duty forecaster at Fiji's meteorological office, Angeline Prasad, says the cyclone is slow moving and people in Santa Cruz can expect bad weather for some time to come:

"The forecast for the Santa Cruz islands is for hurricane to storm force winds and torrential rain and very large swells in coastal areas, including sea flooding. As for northern Vanuatu, there are two groups of islands in Vanua Levu that are likely to be affected and these are the Torres and Banks islands and we have gone for a gale warning for these two groups and they can expect damaging gale force winds in the next 24 to 48 hours."

Angeline Prasad says Cyclone Xavier is intensifying and moving in a west-southwest direction.

The cyclone currently has winds of up 120 kilometres an hour and they are expected to increase to nearly 140 kilometres an hour in the next 12 hours