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Solomon Islands brace as Cyclone Sandra strengthens

Saturday March 9, 2013 - 08:00 EDT

Warnings have been issued for parts of Solomon Islands after Tropical Cyclone Sandra increased to a category 2 over the eastern Coral Sea.

It is the second cyclone alert in a fortnight for Solomon Islanders.

The cyclone is about 700 kilometres south south-west of Honiara and is continuing to intensify as it heads east to south-east at about 8 kilometres per hour.

The system is already causing heavy rain and flooding.

Winds are expected to increase to more than 150 kilometres-per-hour over the next 24 hours.

Gale force winds are expected to develop about Rennell Island and Bellona Island this morning and will continue through the weekend.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Sandra is about 1,200 kilometres north-east of Townsville in north Queensland but is posing no threat to the state.

Senior forecaster Pradeep Singh says Sandra could intensify to a category four by Monday.

"Over the next couple of days it's got potential to develop into a category three, then later on, probably by Monday it should become a category four system," he said.

"Now all this time it'll continue moving in an eastward direction more towards the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia area.

"So we are not looking at any potential threat from the system in the near future."


© ABC 2013

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