Tropical Cyclone Hola to batter New Caledonia; New Zealand on alert

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 09, 2018, 11:30:23 AM EST

Tropical Cyclone Hola will bring heavy rain and strong winds to parts of New Caledonia through Saturday afternoon before heading towards New Zealand.

Hola is currently a Category 3 tropical cyclone on the Fiji intensity scale, comparable to a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic or east Pacific basin.

Downpours totaled 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rainfall across northern and central Vanuatu with local amounts up to 200 mm (8 inches).

Hola track 3.9 AM

The storm produced damaging winds as it passed near or over Pentecost, Ambrym, Epi and Malekula Wednesday night.

The roof of a classroom was blown off and some houses collapsed on Vanuatu's island of Ambrym as the cyclone battered the area, Radio New Zealand reported.

Lengthy power outages are expected in the hardest-hit areas.

Hola risks 3.8 AM

Luganville and Port Vila, the two highest populated areas in Vanuatu, missed the worst of the storm Thursday night as it passed nearby.

Hola will turn southward, keeping it within striking distance of southern Vanuatu but also putting parts of New Caledonia at risk for impacts from the cyclone.

Erromango, Tanna and Aneityum in Vanuatu and Lifo Island, Ouvea Island and Mare in New Caledonia will be at greatest risk for flooding rain and damaging winds from Hola through Saturday afternoon.

New Caledonia Weather Center
Vanuatu Weather Center
Interactive South Pacific weather satellite

The main island of New Caledonia will escape the worst of the tropical cyclone; however, occasional downpours will be possible.

Hola will track away from New Caledonia and Vanuatu Saturday night and will speed towards New Zealand, weakening to a tropical rainstorm during its travels.

However, Hola will still bring a threat for heavy rain and gusty winds to New Zealand, mostly North Island early next week. Localized flooding and damaging winds will be possible from Monday with the greatest threat across northern and eastern parts of North Island.

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