Vanuatu braces for cyclone Ula, NZ next

A Fiji Meteorological Service spokesman says the system is passing near the southern fringes of Vanuatu. Photo / VANUATU METEROLOGICAL SERVICE
A Fiji Meteorological Service spokesman says the system is passing near the southern fringes of Vanuatu. Photo / VANUATU METEROLOGICAL SERVICE

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) says Tafea province is in the clear as cyclone Ula continues to make its way south this morning.

The Vanuatu government issued its 14th cyclone warning for Anietyum Island, Tafea province at 6am local time this morning.

It said this would be the final piece of information issued on Tropical Cyclone Ula unless the weather system turned back.


Despite declaring Tafea out of danger, the government's met service warned of winds of up to 55km per hour on Anietyum island today, slowly decreasing as Ula continues a southward movement away from Vanuatu Area.

It also service predicted rough seas with heavy swells in southern waters left in Ula's wake.

Video footage has been posted on Facebook as Cyclone Ula starts to make landfall in Vanuatu.

Cylone Ula weather forecast at Lenakel Hospital.....Top taem blo wan bigfala shell wantaem ia after wait lo wind mo rain blo go down...ana emergency i heap ikam...lol

Posted by Robert Vocor on Saturday, January 9, 2016

Resident Robert Vocor walks through the grounds of Lenakel hospital in Tanna where the rain is falling steadily and the wind is beginning to pick up.

At this stage the cyclone is described on Facebook as not "making things too miserable" for residents.

However, the worst is expected to come later this afternoon when the cyclone passes close to islands in the Tafea Province.


Earlier

This image taken by the geostationary MTSAT satellite shows Cyclone Ula in the Pacific Ocean heading towards New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
This image taken by the geostationary MTSAT satellite shows Cyclone Ula in the Pacific Ocean heading towards New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

MetService meteorologist Claire Flynn said the tropical cyclone - currently a category four sitting between Vanuatu and Fiji - is expected to begin its journey south out of the tropics on Tuesday. It will be between 500km and 600km north of Cape Reinga by the end of that day, but is expected to weaken and transform into a low pressure system as it moves southwards.

"Due to its distance from the country, the worst of the wind and rain are expected to remain well north of us. However, tropical moisture associated with this system is likely to spread over northern New Zealand on Tuesday.

"This will bring rain to northern parts of the country, with a low chance that rain accumulations could reach warning criteria in Northland."

It was not known what path the ex-tropical cyclone would follow beyond Tuesday, Ms Flynn said.

"At this stage, the most likely scenario is that Ula will move south-eastwards, remaining well offshore of New Zealand. However, due to the uncertainty in the forecast track, MetService meteorologists will continue to monitor the movement of this system and, if necessary, severe weather watches and warnings will be issued."

In the deep south, Sunday had a blustery start. The highest gust was recorded early this morning at Mid Dome, in central Southland, where wind gusts reached 193km an hour. Mt Cook experienced gusts up to 118km/h, and Invercargill recorded 113km/h.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom said no flights had been affected. No one from Jetstar could be contacted.

Winds had begun to ease as a ridge of high pressure moved on to the country, she said.

That high pressure would bring settled weather for many today and tomorrow, except in some eastern and central parts of the North Island and the Canterbury high country, where showers are expected.

- NZ Herald

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