WELLINGTON - Tropical Cyclone Hola was set to batter New Caledonia on Friday, after tearing off roofs and knocking out communications in Vanuatu earlier in the week.
The storm weakened to a category 3 from category 4, Fiji's Meteorology Service said Thursday evening.
The cyclone was expected to veer southeast toward New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands on Friday, bringing severe wind, rain and waves, New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) said.
The Red Cross in Vanuatu told Radio New Zealand that the storm had blown over houses on Malekula and Ambrym Islands, forcing many residents into evacuation centers on Wednesday and Thursday. It had also damaged the cellphone network in parts of the country, the Red Cross and UNICEF said.
New Zealand's Metservice warned the remnants of the storm could hit New Zealand early the following week, bringing heavy rain, wind and large costal swells to the country's upper North Island.