Arona Ngari, director of the Cook Islands Meteorological Service, said the cyclone appears to be taking a direction which would bring it closer to the Cooks than previously thought.
“It means the system is upstream of us and people should expect the worst case scenario. We could be feeling the brunt of it in three day’s time if the predictions are accurate.”
If the cyclone does come close, it will bring more rain, strong north to northwest winds and big swells, Ngari said.
“Considering the location of (Cyclone) Ian, islands of concern would be Palmerston, Aitutaki, Rarotonga and Mangaia. This of course can change at any time depending on where Ian moves.”
Ngari urged people to stay on guard and be well-prepared.
He is calling a meeting tomorrow for the disaster management team to look at the situation.
Yesterday, forecasts showed the system was moving towards the northwest of Tonga (anti-clockwise) and once it turned westwards and then southeasterly, it would move about 300 to 500km to the west of Rarotonga.
“Now the system is turning clockwise towards the northeast and may then turn southeasterly, indicating it will pass closer to Rarotonga,” Ngari said.
He said the cyclone has been upgraded to a category three, with hurricane winds of 65 knots at its centre.
The system is currently moving at a speed of only five knots but will probably accelerate to as fast as 30 knots once it moves southeast.