Cyclone Ella passing close to Futuna

TROPICAL Cyclone Ella, which is a category two storm, is passing just north of the French island of Futuna after an earlier prediction of it passing to its south.

Meteo France said the cyclone had winds close to its centre gusting to 140km/h.

A level 2 alert has been in force for the island since last night, meaning everybody has to be in shelters and all movements are banned.

The system is moving in a westerly direction and is forecast to weaken.

The Fiji Met Office said Ella was moving west-southwest at five kilometres an hour and was about 310 kilometres to the northeast of Fiji’s northern island Cikobia.

While Meteo France says the system will maintain its current intensity for the next few hours, the Fiji Met sevice forecaster, Steven Meke, said the system had weakened.

“From last night, it already weakened, it’s virtually weakened, it could even track to Futuna as a category 1.”

Mr Meke said most of Fiji would notice a drop in strong winds, and high seas as Ella moves further to the north.