Tropical Cyclone Sandra weakened significantly on Tuesday, markedly lowering the threat of damaging weather to nearby New Caledonia.
At the same time, high swells radiating outward from the storm were bringing rough surf and rip currents, a phenomenon that was expected to persist through at least Thursday, to some beaches on faraway Australia's east coast.
Sandra was tracking southward over open seas west of New Caledonia, as it was aimed for the transition from the warm Coral Sea to the cooler Tasman Sea. Further weakening at sea was thus in the offing.
Winds Tuesday slipped below the minimal threshold for a hurricane as the cyclone drifted southward, west of New Caledonia. Rainfall on New Caledonia, though heavy in areas, was not as heavy as had been feared, due to a more distant track by Sandra.
Late last week, top winds had risen to at least 125 mph, equivalent to that of a major hurricane. Although the fury of Sandra's potentially devastating winds spared land, the tropical cyclone was instrumental in triggering excessive rainfall to at least 15 inches on the island nation of Vanuatu.