Wellington: Fiji's Meteorological Service warned of intense rain and "damaging gale force winds" to outer areas of the island nation Thursday, as the first tropical cyclone of the New Year formed in the South Pacific.

Tropical Cyclone Mona was moving in southeast and expected to cross outlying islands.

"There's a risk of flash flooding in low-lying and flood-prone areas. Therefore, all communities living in the flood-prone and landslide areas are requested to remain alert and take precautions," the acting director of meteorology, Viliame Vereivalu, said.

The South Pacific is prone to cyclones in the early months of the year and in February 2016 Fiji was hit by the full force of Cyclone Winston which left 44 people dead and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.