The area surrounding the New Caledonian capital Noumea is now on maximum alert for Cyclone Vania.
The French High Commission says as the storm's approaching with increasing speed it has raised the red alert for the southern quarter of the main island, the island of Mare and the Isle of Pines.
The warning means everyone must remain inside until official notice the storm's passed.
An orange alert is still in force for Lifou, Ouvea and Tiga in the Loyalty group as well as much of the main island north of Noumea.
The rest of the main island remains on stand-by.