Tropical Cyclone Ula roars towards Vanuatu

Melanesia on red alert for flooding as cyclone heads south packing wind gusts up to 260km/h.

Vanuatu cyclone ula
Cyclone Ula is expected to pass south of Vanuatu on Sunday and then track towards New Zealand [US Joint Typhoon Warning Center]

A red alert warning has been issued for the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu as Tropical Cyclone Ula heads towards the country’s southern Tafea province.

The storm was located around 90km from the southern island of Aneityum on Sunday afternoon, where residents are already experiencing strong winds and heavy rain.

The cyclone is currently packing winds of 215 kilometres per hour with gusts nearer 260km/h. The eye of the storm is not expected to pass over land, and it is expected to weaken steadily as it passes south of the country.

Vanuatu islanders struggle to rebuild after Cyclone Pam

That said, Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) have urged residents to stay indoors while the cyclone tracks southwards, also bringing wet and windy weather across southern parts of New Caledonia.

Vanuatu is still recovering from Cyclone Pam, which left thousands of people homeless and wiped out entire food crops when it struck the islands last March.

Pam was responsible for one of Vanuatu’s worst natural disasters in the country’s history. It was also the most intense tropical cyclone in the southern hemisphere during 2015.

It left 11 people dead and disrupted the lives of most of Vanuatu’s 253,000 residents. As a result, every precaution is being taken this time round.

Cyclone Ula is expected to pass to the south of Vanuatu by 18:00 GMT on Sunday and then track east of New Caledonia on its way towards New Zealand.

It will weaken steadily as it moves into the cooler waters, but New Zealand’s North Island can look forward to a wet and windy end to the week.

Source: Al Jazeera