Fox News Weather Center

Tropical Cyclone Sandra Rapidly Strengthens

Tropical Cyclone Sandra remains over the open waters of the Coral Sea several hundred miles to the west of the Solomon Islands and northwest of New Caledonia.

Sandra rapidly intensified during the past 24 hours as sustained winds are now averaging 125 mph with gusts near 155 mph.

Further intensification is possible during the next 24 hours and Sandra could ultimately have sustained winds comparable to a Category 4 hurricane.

Modest weakening is expected Monday night into Tuesday as the storm approaches the island nation of New Caledonia. The center of the storm will likely move just west of the island Tuesday into Wednesday, passing within 100 miles of the western coastline.

This track will bring the threat for damaging wind gusts and flooding rainfall to New Caledonia. Flooding still appear to the most widespread threat as some parts of the nearby Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have already received more than a foot of rainfall from the storm.

Three days of similar heavy rainfall plus damaging winds could be devastating for much of New Caledonia.

Beyond Wednesday further weakening is expected and Sandra will become extra tropical before combining with another low pressure to bring the threat for flooding rainfall to New Zealand late in the week.