19 Mar 2014

New cyclone developed near Cook Islands

4:43 pm on 19 March 2014

A new cyclone has developed near the Cook Islands and is expected to bring damaging winds to Rarotonga tonight.

A Fiji Meteorological Service forecaster, Sanday Prapash, says the category-one Cyclone Mike has winds of 35 knots close to the centre, and momentary gusts of 50 knots.

He says a gale force wind warning is in place for the southern Cook Islands.

He says Cyclone Mike is already causing strong winds in Aitutaki, and is moving south-east towards Rarotonga.

"Once the cyclone moves south east, then islands like Mauke, Mangaia and Rarotonga will be affected. With these damaging gale force winds, the swells will also be there. And since these islands are all low-lying islands, the coastal flooding is also one of those factors that will be affecting them from today."

Sanday Prapash says Cyclone Mike is expected to intensify, developing into a category 2 cyclone in the next 36 hours.

But Mr Prapash says it is likely the storm will be south of Rarotonga by then, in the open sea.