Tropical Cyclone Oma to pass dangerously close to New Caledonia
February 17, 2019; 11:32 AM
Rain and wind are expected to increase across New Caledonia early this week as Tropical Cyclone Oma passes dangerously close.
Oma is currently a Category 2 tropical cyclone on the Fiji scale with 10-minute sustained winds near 102 km/h (63 mph). This is equal to a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.
While the heaviest rain and strongest winds will stay over the open water through Monday, bands of heavy rain and gusty wind will stream onshore across northern New Caledonia.
Boaters and swimmers should continue to avoid entering the water due to dangerously rough surf.
Oma will press southward through midweek with a track that can take it dangerously close to the northern tip of New Caledonia's Grand Terre Island.
Oma is expected to be a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone when it makes its closest approach to New Caledonia on Tuesday. At its peak intensity, the strength of Oma can be equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.
The exact track of Oma will determine the extent of damaging winds and flooding rain impacts on Grand Terre.
The current forecast track takes the center of Oma about 80-160 km (50-100 miles) to the northwest of Grand Terre.
This track would keep the worst of Oma's rain and wind offshore, but there can still be enough rain and wind targeting Grand Terre to cause flash flooding and damage.
Wind gusts of 80-115 km/h (50-70 mph) can whip the northwestern tip of Grand Terre Monday night into Tuesday. Residents of Poum, Tiabet and Ouegoa should prepare for prolonged power outages.
Dangerously rough seas will be stirred across the waters surrounding New Caledonia. As the winds drive the water onshore, a life-threatening storm surge can inundate the northeastern coast of Grand Terre. Coastal flooding may also occur at the island's southeastern beaches.
Rainfall may become the most widespread impact of Oma on New Caledonia.
Totals through Wednesday can average 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 250 mm (10 inches) in the mountains and along the east-facing slopes.
Flooding and mudslides can be triggered, including along the streams and rivers that flow out of the mountains.
All residents of New Caledonia are urged to closely monitor the progress of Oma in the event it tracks closer to the island and poses a greater danger to lives and property.
Download the free AccuWeather app for the latest information on Oma and to remain alert of any hazardous weather expected in your area.
After threatening New Caledonia, Oma may not just fizzle over the open waters south of the island.
It is possible that Oma loses its tropical characteristics but still targets New Zealand with heavy rain and strong winds the weekend of Feb. 23-24.
Another scenario is that Oma does not get pushed that far south but targets the coast of southern Queensland and/or New South Wales in Australia around the weekend.