10 March 2015
A large tropical cyclone named Pam has formed in open South Pacific waters north of Vanuatu and Fiji.
The cyclone is expected to head south towards New Zealand and then curve to the east.
Fiji’s Tropical Cyclone Centre issued cyclone warnings early on Tuesday but said that at this stage it was uncertain where Pam would go.
Vanuatu, which has a population of 252,000, is on alert, while major cruise line operators, including Royal Viking, have shortened or moved planned cruise voyages this week.
Pam is also expected to bring bad weather to Fiji and New Caledonia.
Several major weather forecasting models have been predicting since Friday that Pam would become a super cyclone, with winds exceeding category 5 on the five-point scale.
It is unusual to have such a long warning period ahead of a cyclone.
Fiji’s private weather service, NaDraki Weather, said it was “pretty much a given” that Pam would reach severe strength and get stronger as it moved south.
“The forecast track remains unchanged,” it said.
“However, it has not started to move significantly yet, so it is unlikely any major changes to the track, if any are needed, will be made until later tomorrow once it starts to move.”