Cyclone Quartet in the Tropics

13 03 2015

There are currently four cyclones active across tropical regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Here we take a look at each storm and its impacts.

Four cyclones seen on 12 March 2015. Image courtesy of The National Institute of Informatics

Four cyclones seen on 12 March 2015.
Image courtesy of The National Institute of Informatics

Cyclone Pam is the most intense of the four cyclones and, at the time of writing on March 13, is making landfall over the Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean as one of the most intense southern hemisphere cyclones on record. Sustained winds are estimated to be near 170 mph with a central pressure of 900 mb. Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, is located on the island of Efate and here preparations for the cyclone have been rushed to completion and residents of the city with a population of 45,000 have taken cover as the cyclone approaches. The eye of the cyclone is expected to pass just to the east, if not directly over the city.

Cyclone Pam seen on 13 March 2015 Image courtesy of The US Naval Research Laboratory

Cyclone Pam seen on 13 March 2015
Image courtesy of The US Naval Research Laboratory

Australia was struck by two cyclones simultaneously in February (Marcia and Lam) and this week is dealing with another dual threat. Cyclone Olwyn came ashore yesterday (12 March) in Western Australia near the town of Exmouth with wind gusts of 112 mph recorded at Learmonth Airport and a 1.75 m storm surge. Olwyn is tracking parallel to the coast and so is continuing to bring strong winds and heavy rain to a large stretch of the coast of Western Australia.

Meanwhile in northern Queensland Tropical Storm Nathan has made a very close approach to the coast bringing over 200mm rain in places in 24 hours. However, the centre of the storm has stayed off shore and is predicted to move back out to sea so minimising the threat of this storm to populated areas.

Tropical cyclones in the northern hemisphere are not frequent at this time of year, but in the North Pacific Tropical Storm Bavi has formed and is slowly gathering strength. The storm is well away from any large land masses, but by the end of the weekend could pass close to the US island territory of Guam.

Official warnings for these cyclones are produced by the Fiji Meteorological Service, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Japan Meteorological Agency. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance. We also provide updates on current tropical storms via @metofficestorms on Twitter.

 





Cyclone Evan strikes Samoa

13 12 2012

Towards the end of every year tropical storm activity moves from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. The South Indian Ocean has already spawned three tropical storms including the unusually strong early season Cyclone Anais in October. Attention has now switched to the South Pacific Ocean and Cyclone Evan.

Evan formed near Fiji a few days ago and moved north-east as it strengthened. As it reached the equivalent of hurricane intensity (winds near 75 mph) it made landfall over Samoa close to the capital city of Apia. Although winds of this strength are not exceptional for a cyclone, first reports indicate considerable wind damage and flooding from a storm surge of 12-15 feet (3.5-4.5 m). This storm surge is of similar height to that experienced in New York City during ‘Superstorm’ Sandy in October.

Visible satellite image of Cyclone Evan on 12 December 2012

Visible satellite image of Cyclone Evan on 12 December 2012

Although Samoa lies within the cyclone belt of the South Pacific Ocean, the island nation has been relatively storm free for many years. Cyclone Heta passed close by in 2003, but the last time Samoa received direct strikes from tropical storms was in 1997 and 1998 by storms named Tui and, coincidentally, Evan.

To make matters worse, Cyclone Evan is expected to become slow moving near Samoa and American Samoa, producing large amounts of rainfall, before turning back south-west. Latest forecasts suggest Evan will strengthen some more and could threaten a strike on Fiji early next week.

Regional warnings for Cyclone Evan are produced by the Fiji Meteorological Service. The Met Office routinely supplies predictions of cyclone tracks from its global forecast model to regional meteorological centres worldwide, which are used along with guidance from other models in the production of forecasts and guidance.

You can keep up to date with tropical cyclones around the world on our website or follow us on Twitter.








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