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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Feb. 1) – Tropical cyclone Jim, which threatened New Caledonia for most of Tuesday, has finally spared the French Pacific country's northern islands and was Wednesday moving away eastwards with decreasing strength.

In New Caledonia, a maximum alert had been issued on Tuesday for the northeastern Loyalty Islands, where a direct impact was then a strong possibility.

However, Jim, with winds gusting 100 knots (185 kilometres per hour), stayed sufficiently away from the Northern group, where its closest pass was about 100 kilometres north of Maré Island.

The French High commission in New Caledonia on Tuesday evening lifted the alert 2 (the maximum on a scale of three) for the Loyalties.

Jim has however caused some damage on the island, where at least three villages remain without electrical power due to damage to the lines.

Jim is now moving southeast out into the open sea, between Vanuatu and Fiji, at a peed of 21 knots.

Winds at its centre are still relatively powerful (60 knots - 111 kilometres per hours --, gusting 75 knots - 139 kilometres per hour --) and were expected to gradually decrease to 50 knots, gusting 65 knots within the next 48 hours at it moves further into the open sea.

However, its course is also expected to change radically as Jim is also expected to make a complete U-turn later Wednesday to change its Southeasterly course to a full Westward direction.

[PIR editor’s note: According to Tropical Storm Risk, Jim on Feb. 1 had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds of up to 60 knots. The storm early on Feb. 1 was southeast of New Caledonia and was projected to turn back almost 180 degrees, heading west to the south of New Caledonia. The Solomon Islands lie to the north of New Caledonia. ]

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