By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 4,2017, 6:39:32PM,EDT
Tropical Cyclone Donna will threaten northern Vanuatu with flooding rain and damaging winds as it continues to strengthen.
Donna is on track to intensify into Category 4 severe tropical cyclone by Saturday and hold that category through the weekend. At its peak, Donna will be equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins.
As Donna becomes a monster cyclone, torrential rain and destructive winds will increase around its center. Massive seas in excess of 6 meters (20 feet) will build over the Coral Sea, posing extreme dangers to those with shipping interests.
Donna will strengthen as it barrels through Vanuatu’s northern province of Torba with widespread damaging winds and flooding rain early on Friday morning, then north of Sanma on Friday (local time).
Late this weekend into early next week, Donna will curve southward and track offshore of central Vanuatu.
With Donna being a compact storm, the heaviest rain and most destructive winds will remain offshore of the provinces from Sanma to Malampa.
Vanuatu weather center
AccuWeather tropical cyclone center
Matthew and Otto retired as Atlantic hurricane names after the storms turned deadly, destructive in 2016
However, damaging winds gusts between 115-145 km/h (71-90 mph) will still graze northern Sanma on Friday. More of the islands will face flooding rain.
“The slow-moving nature of Donna will still bring the possibility of heavy rain and flooding across Vanuatu from Friday into early next week,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.
Rainfall across the northern half of Vanuatu will generally total 120-250 mm (5-10 inches) with localized amounts to 300 mm (12 inches). Residents should brace for some communities to be inundated, rivers to overflow their banks and mudslides to be triggered. Some roads and bridges could get destroyed.
Seas will also become too dangerous to enter with areas of coastal flooding. This threat will expand to southern Vanuatu and the coast of New Caledonia early next week as Donna tracks southward.
Donna is expected to begin weakening toward midweek, but may curve toward the southern Vanuatu province of Tafea with damaging winds and flooding rain.
It is also possible that Donna only grazes these islands with rain and wind toward midweek if it tracks far enough to the west. In this scenario, the rain and wind would either brush or target New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands.
The demise of Donna will come after midweek as it tracks into the open waters south of Vanuatu and combines with a non-tropical system.