CYCLONE JASPER THREATENS NEW CALEDONIA

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‘Orange’ alert posted for the north

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, Mar. 24, 2009) - In New Caledonia, French authorities have posted an "orange" alert" (level two on a scale of three) in response to a tropical cyclone dubbed "Jasper," which has formed in the past 12 hours in the Coral Sea, West of this French Pacific territory.

The "orange" alert has been placed on the Northern part of the main island.

The weather situation in New Caledonia had already been adverse since last weeks, with flooding caused by heavy rains that have rendered several roads and bridges impracticable, especially in the North of the main island.

Over the past six hours, Jasper has been upgraded by Australian Bureau of Meteorology to a category Two cyclone.

Its movement speed is relatively fast and estimated at around twenty kilometers per hour in a East-South-easterly direction.

According to the Joint Tropical Warning Centre from the US Navy, Jasper currently bears a moderate wind speed (just over 50 knots, 95 kilometers per hour) near its centre, with an associated low pressure of 978 Hectopascal.

But it has the potential to develop into a "significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours".

If Jasper maintains its current track, it could approach the North-Western tip of New Caledonia’s main island, the Grande Terre within the next 15 hours.

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