23 Jan 2007

Cyclone Zita poses a threat for the western islands of French Polynesia

2:58 pm on 23 January 2007

A cyclone has developed in the Pacific that could threaten French Polynesia's Society Islands in the next 12 to 24 hours.

At the moment, Cyclone Zita is carrying winds of 65 kilomtres an hour at its centre.

It is moving in an east-southeast direction at about 26 kilometres an hour and is intensifying.

A forecaster with New Zealand' s Meteorological Service, Jeff Sanders, says at present it is south east of the northern Cook Islands:

"Almost looks as if its heading towards the Society Islands , if it takes a more south easterly course it is heading more towards the Austral island which are well south of Tahiti."

Mr Sanders says the cyclone will probably be also causing some reasonably forceful winds in the northern Cook Islands and building seas.

A separate tropical depression has lead to a gale force wind warning in Samoa.

The weather system is situated about 300 kilometres off Savaii and is almost stationary but local forecasters say it could intensify into a cyclone quickly.

Residents are being advised to tie down loose objects and take precautions in case the winds get stronger.