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Fox News Weather Center

New Zealand, Fiji Brace for Tropical Cyclone Pam's Wrath

After developing north of the Solomon Islands on March 9, Pam rapidly strengthened into a Tropical Cyclone with a well-defined eye. Now Tropical Cyclone Pam is shifting towards New Zealand.

Although this system is not expected to affect Australia like tropical cyclones Olwyn and Nathan, very strong winds and heavy rains are expected in the path of Pam.

As Pam continues to moves southward, it will trek very close to the islands of Vanuatu, a country between Fiji and the mainland of Australia.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said, "Strong Tropical Cyclone Pam will batter Vanuatu with flooding rains and damaging winds into early Saturday."

Fiji will also get heavy rain from this cyclone.

Although the center of the storm is not expected to make landfall here, the massive size of the storm has people bracing for sustained winds in excess of 240 kph (150 mph). These winds are equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific oceans.

These gusting winds also threaten power outages, even if the worst of them remain over ocean.

Post by Jason Feast Photography.

Storm surge and flooding from heavy rain will also be a concern with this cyclone. One of the most northerly spots in Vanuatu, the island of Vanua Lava had already received 170 mm (6.7 inches) of rain on Thursday, with even more rain to follow through Saturday.

After passing Vanuatu and Fiji, Pam is expected to weaken as it approaches the waters north of New Zealand. Despite this weakening, Pam could still have winds up to 160 kph (about 100 mph) over open water, with slightly less destructive winds and heavy rain to the northern island of New Zealand.

The anticipation of Pam's high winds, waves and heavy rains has delayed one of the worlds biggest boating events, the Volvo Ocean Race. The next leg of the race, scheduled to leave Aukland, New Zealand, for Itajai, Brazil, on Sunday, local time, was postponed a full 24 hours.

As of Thursday night, local time, the new start time was still not confirmed, with officials waiting to see if the race would need to be pushed back further depending on the exact track of Pam.