Tropical Cyclone Oma scours New Caledonia

Long-lived cyclone continues slow progress through the Coral Sea towards the Australian coast.

    About 3,000 homes north of New Caledonia's main island Grand Terre lost power in the last 24 hours after Tropical Cyclone Oma hit the French territory in the South Pacific.

    According to local media, trees were brought down and with rainfall totals in excess of 100 millimetres so far and roads have been flooded.

    In the town of Kone, on the west coast, the figure for rainfall for 24 hours of stormy downpours was 143mm, with gusts of wind approaching 100 kilometres per hour, blowing from the east. Kone is on the lee side of Grand Terre, as cyclones in the southern hemisphere revolve in a clockwise rotation.

    In the bare face of the cyclone, according to New Caledonia's weather service, on one of the smaller islands in the northern archipelago, Ile Art, overland gusts of 140 km/h have been recorded.

    The eye of the cyclone remains out at sea where winds are blowing at about 150 km/h, but the strength of Oma is still increasing. It will likely reach a peak intensity of an equivalent Category 2 hurricane, on the Saffir-Simpson scale. This should be achieved on Wednesday morning.

    The longevity and slow-moving nature of Cyclone Oma have generated waves more than 8-metres high, which in turn have generated a long-fetch swell heading for the Australian coast.

    The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia has issued a "hazardous swell warning" for the Queensland coast.

    Oma moved away from New Caledonia after nearly three weeks of existence. The cyclone looks unlikely to make landfall but may boost rainfall over New Zealand next week.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies