Cyclone Donna strongest May cyclone to hit Southern Hemisphere

  • Latest News
  • 09/05/2017

Cyclone Donna has grown to become the strongest May cyclone ever to hit the Southern Hemisphere, and while it won't hit New Zealand, its leftovers will bring wild weather here at the end of the week.

It's reached category five strength, with wind gusts up to 300km/h, after battering Vanuatu at the weekend.

But the system will weaken as it leaves the tropics, MetService says.

Bad weather is expected at the end of the week in New Zealand, when the remains of Donna merge with a low trough over the Tasman Sea. 

"It's been a nervous couple of days here in Port Vila as we watched Cyclone Donna hovering north of the country," UNICEF spokesman Lachlan Forsyth told The AM Show.

"As I look out the window it seems we've dodged a bullet here," he told The AM Show.

"You never want to speak to soon when it comes to things like tropical cyclones which are unpredictable by their very nature," he says.

He says the most hard-hit islands in the north are the most isolated ones, which are very hard to get to. It will take some time to find out what they need in the way of disaster relief.

"People definitely remember Cyclone Pam, that was a big wake-up, and when I speak to the locals they say Pam knocked a lot of complacency out of people.

"Yesterday people were preparing - schools were shut, businesses were closing, people were taping up windows."

The storm system is expected to hit Noumea on Wednesday.

"There is enormous uncertainty about the speed and trajectory of Donna at the moment, we are unable to tell people how long they will have to stay at home for," said Olivier Ciry, a spokesman at the Civil Defence and Risk Management agency.