11 May 2017

Ella heading north of mainland Fiji, Futuna in lockdown

8:01 pm on 11 May 2017

Tropical Cyclone Ella's projected course is now taking it many kilometres north of Fiji's main islands, while the French island of Futuna, also to the north, is effectively in lock down.

Meteo France images of Cyclone Ella, which the service expected to weaken overnight but move over Fiji.

Meteo France images of Cyclone Ella, which the service expected to weaken overnight but move over Fiji. Photo: Meteo France

The alert for Futuna was raised to the maximum level two a short time ago.

There are different views on the progress of the category two storm.

Meteo France says it is likely to weaken later tonight and approach Fiji's Vanua Levu.

But the Fiji Met Office is forecasting for Ella to continue moving to the west and to be about 150 kilometres to the northeast of Fiji's most northern island Cikobia by the middle of Friday afternoon.

Cyclone ella - 11/05

Photo: RSMC Nadi Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

It also says the storm will intensify to category three as it moves further west and away from Fiji .

Fiji forecaster Steven Meke said they were still anticipating significant impacts.

"At this stage the track has moved slightly north from Vanua Levu but as it comes close we still expect the centre to come close to Cikobia but just to the north of Cikobia and then it moves to the west of Fiji.

"But with that said we still anticipate the gale force winds, the damaging gale force winds to affect the northern part - that is Vanua Levu, Taveuni and of course Cikobia."

Mr Meke sais winds gusting up to 120 kilometres an hour are expected for these areas.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs