South Pacific: Category three Cyclone Cook hits New Caledonia

French media reports at least four injured and 20,000 homes without power in the wake of Cyclone Cook making landfall in New Caledonia.

Published 7 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Cyclonic winds and heavy rain buffeted the French island territory in the South Pacific on Monday, prompting residents to seek shelter and halt mining of nickel, its most important export. Local rainfall of up to 300 mm was also reported.

“Right now we are in the eye of the storm, it is calm, but before the wind was strong and the rain was heavy,” David Sigal told Reuters as he sheltered in the town hall of Poindimie, about 50 km north of where the storm hit land.

Cook developed into a tropical cyclone while crossing the islands of southern Vanuatu on Saturday. Trees were downed and the power was knocked out for parts of the nation’s capital of Port Vila, according to ABC Australia.

Cook hit the main island of New Caledonia at almost the same time as high tide, packing winds of up to 200 kph, bringing down coconut trees to block roads and forcing residents to seek shelter indoors.

Floods, and waves as tall as 10 metres, were also forecast by weather authorities.

“The threat to New Caledonia is very serious,” the meteorological service said in a cyclone alert.

Cyclone Cook, tracking southward, is predicted to pass within 50 km of Noumea during the night. Strong winds, heavy rain, and rain are forecast to batter the 400-km length of the main island and smaller islands nearby.

Conditions look to improve on Tuesday as the storm departs, with eyes turning to New Zealand as the system could bring heavy rain, high surf, and gusty winds later in the week, along with renewed flooding concerns following the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie last week.

The North Island’s flood-stricken regions were bracing for heavy rain thanks to a low from the Tasman Sea, and the tropical cyclone could make matters worse.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said Tropical Cyclone Cook could affect New Zealand later in the week adding to the low that will move across the country from Tuesday.

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