Vanuatu feeling the force of severe Tropical Cyclone Donna

Vanuatu feeling the force of severe Tropical Cyclone Donna

Vanuatu feeling the force of severe Tropical Cyclone Donna

Updated 7 May 2017, 10:45 AEST

Tropical Cyclone Donna intensifies to a category four system, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and the potential for landslides to parts of Vanuatu, a local weather expert says.

A cyclone that has been threatening the Pacific nation of Vanuatu has intensified to a category four system, according to a local weather expert.

Tropical Cyclone Donna is packing winds of between 170 and 240 kilometres an hour at its centre, but remains well west of the country.

"It's a weak category four system now, which is about the same intensity that Tropical Cyclone Cook gained several weeks ago in April, so at this stage it remains well west of Vanuatu, out over the Coral Sea," said Neville Koop from the Nadraki Weather Service.

"And as such, it's not really having a great impact on the islands right now.

"We're a little bit unsure of precisely where it will move next, but it will head generally south-east towards southern Vanuatu and the eastern parts of New Caledonia and it will probably start to weaken early next week as it moves into cooler waters from late Monday."

Cyclone Cook brought gusts of up to 130 kilometres per hour to Vanuatu in early April, felling trees and knocking out power to some residents in the capital Port Vila, but caused no serious damage.

A red alert remains active for the Torba province, which has been buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain for several days.

Sanma province and the Malampa and Penama provinces have also been affected, with warnings for the potential of landslides and coastal flooding still in place.

While the cyclone is now likely to pass south of Vanuatu, Mr Koop said it was still having an impact on the vital tourism industry.

"When you have a small event, even a relatively small event like this, it does disrupt that recovery process, and gardens and farms which are just starting to produce crops again and buildings that have been recently replaced or rebuilt are vulnerable to damage again," he said.

"Clearly this sort of event isn't good for either the locals, who are experiencing quite heavy rain and flooding, or tourism in the region — both the fact that tourists aren't coming there at the moment and probably there'll be some cleaning up to do afterwards."

The official cyclone season in the Pacific ended on April 31.