Several Pacific nations are bracing for heavy rains and strong winds as a tropical depression is officially upgraded to a category two cyclone.
Fiji’s Na Draki weather service said Cyclone Pam was about 1,000 kilometres north of Nadi and would bring strong winds and heavy rain.
“It’s already starting to affect northern Vanuatu and the eastern Solomons,” said meteorologist Neville Koop.
“But here in Fiji, by about late Wednesday and Thursday, we will see very heavy rain commence and continue through Friday and Saturday.
“But there is still a risk we could see the actual eye come closer to Fiji.”
Mr Koop said Cyclone Pam had the potential to develop into a severe category four or five system.
“Heavy rain and flooding, with hopefully the eye of the cyclone passing over waters to out west – that’s probably the best that we can hope for.”
The Fiji Meteorological Service has forecast Cyclone Pam to intensify into a category 3 system in the next 24 to 36 hours.
“(Cyclone Pam) is expected to track to the southwest of Fiji,” the service said on its website.
“On its projected path, Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to lie about 800km north-west of Nadi at 8am (local time) on Wednesday morning.”
Fiji authorities concerned about infrastructure damage
Authorities in Fiji have begun making preparations for the impending cyclone and resulting rains and floods.
The Disaster Management Office said it expected most residents to be prepared after having been through the devastation caused by Cyclone Evan in December 2012.
The office’s acting director, Akapusi Tuifagalele, said authorities should keep informing residents “to be alert and to be aware that it (cyclone) can be bigger than the last time”
Mr Tuifagalele told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program there were concerns about infrastructure damaged by the impact of Cyclone Evan.
“Although we have done most of our rehabilitation and reconstruction, there’s still some left to be done and in this kind of situation where we have a repeat nature of natural disasters like this Cyclone Pam that is moving towards Fiji,” he said.
“We would expect some of our infrastructure to be taken to task in terms of either the intensity of the wind or the flooding.
“We would expect some of our roads to be closed the bridges to be washed out and then to be repaired and reconstructed again.”