Tropical Cyclone Pam
Photo by NOAA Visualization Lab
Tropical Cyclone Pam is in the right center of the image -- a total of four cyclones are pictured.

Tropical Cyclone Pam, now a category 5, is hitting the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu with near-record winds.

According to CNN:

Pam boasts sustained winds of 165 mph (270 kilometers per hour) with gusts of up to 200 mph (325 kilometers per hour), not to mention “torrential” rainfall.

Vanuatu is located approximately 1,100 miles off the northeast coast of Australia.

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In its 3 a.m. Saturday (noon ET Friday) update, the Vanuatu Meteorological Services warned of “very destructive hurricane force winds” of 155 mph (250 kilometers per hour) in Shefa and Tafea provinces, with several others facing heavy ocean swells, flash flooding and landslides.

The agency said the storm was then positioned about 15 miles (25 kilometers) northwest of Erromango, the next island in the chain, and 70 miles (113 kilometers) southeast of Efate.

“Pam is close to rivaling the strongest cyclone in the South Pacific, which was Zoe in 2002,” Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said. “The one-minute average of Zoe’s maximum sustained winds was 285 kph (178 mph), while its pressure dropped down to 890 millibars.”

For more information on Tropical Cyclone Pam, please visit

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