Cyclone Rachel Downgraded; Solomons Still At Risk

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Flash floods, landslides still likely from heavy rain

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 3, 2015) – Cyclone Raquel has weakened but forecasters are warning flash floods and landslides are still likely for Solomon Islands.

The Fiji met service says Raquel has been downgraded to a tropical disturbance, but forecasters warn the system is still likely to cause flash floods and landslides for Solomon Islands.

It says the system is 250 kms north of Honiara and travelling east south east at 7 kms.

A spokesperson for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Jess Carey, says people still need to be prepared.

"In the last 24 hours it was almost stationary overnight but still is a category one system where you'll still be expecting 90 to 100 kilometre per hour gusts. Rainfall well in excess of 100 millimetres in a 24 hour period is likely and with that rainfall you can expect flash flooding and landslides as well."

Jess Carey says areas south of a cyclone are always the worst affected and rough seas and strong gusts are likely near Honiara and on Guadalcanal over the next few days.

A heavy rain warning is in place for all provinces and Islands.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have issued health warnings in response to Cyclone Racquel.

The acting permanent secretary, Dr Christopher Becha, says the category one storm could seriously impact health.

He says extreme weather can lead to infectious disease outbreaks, damage health infrastructure and limit access to health care services.

Both agencies have called on the public to maintain safe hygiene practices including hand washing and boiling water before drinking it.

Meanwhile in Guam, the weather service there says tropical storm Chan-hom could become a typhoon within the next 12 hours.

The storm is strengthening as it moves west towards the Northern Marianas and Guam where it is expected to hit at the weekend.

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