Mt. Evans from Mt. Bierstadt (Photo credit: Mouser NerdBot)
Earth Watch Report- Storms
English: Pago Pago Harbor, Tutuila Island, American Samoa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
||[Samoa, American Samoa and Fiji]
||Thursday, 13 December, 2012 at 03:56 UTC
|Tropical Cyclone Evan is gaining strength as it passes over the Samoan capital of Apia and heads back out to sea, where it is expected to become a Category 3 tropical storm with winds of up to 190km/h. Samoas National Disaster Management Office says the damage from the cyclone has been officially declared a disaster. Reports from Apia suggest electircity supplies and internet have been affected, and with phone batteries running low, contact with the outside world is now reduced. Assistant CEO of the office Filamena Nelson has told Radio New Zealand International that the main problem is fallen trees, with many obstructing roads and bringing power lines down, cutting electricity. She says some homes have been damaged by the trees, but there are no reports of deaths or injuries.
Air New Zealand has cancelled flights in and out of the island nation. The storm is currently a Category 1 tropical cyclone, but is expected to become a Category 3 storm at its height, as it makes a U-turn over American Samoa and heads southwest towards Fiji, with winds of up to 190km/h expected. The National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service has posted this satellite image of the storm’s progress across Samoa. Cyclone Evan is likely to intensify over the weekend, and is threatening the vulnerable Tongan islands of Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu, which were devastated by the 2009 tsunami which killed 189 people in the region. Storm and hurricane warnings are in place for Samoa, as is flood advice for the country. Tourists staying in beach fales around the country have been told to move inland and schools and government offices have closed.
Cyclone Evan was named yesterday by the regional Tropical Cyclone Centre in Nadi, Fiji, after a tropical depression worsened southwest of Samoa, before moving east towards Apia. The storm is expected to ease a serious water shortage in Samoa, where rains have been light and water catchments are dry. The acting managing director of the Samoa Water Authority, Ekiumeni Fauolo, told Radio Australia that he has never seen weather patterns like these in Samoa. “This is supposed to be our rainy season,” he said. “It should have started two months ago, three months ago, but we haven’t seen any decent rain.” That looks set to change, as Cyclone Evan brings heavy rains, powerful winds and storm surges to the region.
||Thursday, 13 December, 2012 at 04:05 UTC
|Samoa has issued a disaster declaration after assessing initial damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Evan. The storm with its sustained winds of 90 kilometres an hour, and gusts to 130 kilometres per hour has brought heavy rain and storm surges of up to three metres. Cyclone Evan is expected to move back west and affect Tonga and Fiji. The Samoa Disaster Management Office says at this stage it can cope with the clean-up out of existing funds and does not need international assistance. A spokesperson, Filamena Nelson says the main problems are fallen trees with many obstructing roads and bringing power lines down cutting electricity. She says some homes have been damaged by the trees but there are no reports of deaths or injuries.
“Our Deputy Prime Minister just signed a Declaration of Disaster which is made under our Disaster and Emergency Management Act 2007 and this is effective for forty eight hours. The extension of that will very much depend on the situation.” Filamena Nelson says the whole of Samoa has been affected by high winds and surface flooding. The terminal at Faleolo airport has suffered some damage but the runway is intact. Air New Zealand says its Auckland-Apia flight this morning was cancelled and weather permitting, a special charter flight is planned for Friday to accommodate disrupted passengers. Our correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller says the streets of Pago Pago are quiet and people are anxious as they wait to see if the cyclone will hit the Territory as predicted.
“The town is emptying out as people head home. The American Samoa Government has closed down. A lot of companies are also closed, the banks are closed, the Post Office is closed. Starkist Samoa has now also, this is the biggest employer with two thousand emplyees has just now announced that they have closed for today and tomorrow.” Fijiâs Meteorological Service says Cyclone Evan may well become more intense as it turns towards Tonga and Fiji. The Director of the Met Service Alipate Waqaicelua says Tongaâs northern islands, Niuatoputapu and Niuafoâou, are being warned of damaging gale force winds within the next two days. He says Fiji may be directly affected on Sunday. “The land mass of Samoa has interfered with the intensity and its structure so it might appear it had weakened but we expect this cyclone to retain a category two or even intensify further as it turns toward the west and heads towards Tonga and Fiji.” Alipate Waqaicelua says high and damaging sea swells are a feature of the cyclone and marine warnings are in place. Spokesman from the Tonga Disaster Office says an official is meeting a committee up north to help with preparations of the cycloneâs approach, where up to a thousand people could be affected.
||Thursday, 13 December, 2012 at 15:23 UTC
|Two people have been confirmed dead as Cyclone Evan causes widespread destruction around the Samoan capital of Apia. The category-two storm made landfall in Apia earlier today, bringing heavy rainfall and winds of up to 110 kilometres per hour. A state of disaster has now been declared. Homes and crops have been destroyed, rivers flooded, trees and power lines toppled, roads cut and office buildings damaged. The cyclone, thought to be one of the most powerful to hit the Pacific nation in 20 years, also forced the closure of the airport. Storm and flood warnings have been issued, with forecasts that it will cause a sea surge of more than three metres along the Samoan coast. Evan is expected to make landfall in neighbouring American Samoa tonight. Neville Koop, the meteorology and climate adviser to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, has told Radio Australia that Evan is expected to eventually head south towards Fiji, which is also preparing for rough weather.
Samoa told to brace for more
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LATEST: Cyclone Evan is set to hit Apia again this morning with greater force, after reportedly killing three people – including two children – yesterday.
The cyclone has already inflicted massive damage on the Samoan capital while details around the fatalities are not yet available.
Winds close to the cyclone’s centre are predicted to increase to 120 kmh to 145 kmh within the next 6-12 hours.
A special weather bulletin said Upolu could expect to see high gusts of wind up to 160 kmh and damaging storm surges of 3.6 metres to 4.3m.
Phone lines are still down in Samoa and the country’s High Commissioner in New Zealand has been struggling to get updated information.
“We don’t have any update (on whether the next phase of the cyclone has hit). We’ve been trying to call the Disaster Management Office but have had no luck,” a spokesman said.
He could confirm that at least three people were dead – two children and one adult. But did not have detail on ages or nationalities.
Samoan newspaper editor Tevita Terrance said wind gusts of up to 112 kph were being experienced.
“There are several missing people at the moment. The damage is pretty extensive,” he told RNZ.
Not everyone got sufficient warning about the cyclone yesterday, he said.
“Some of the beaches have been washed away, one of the main beaches has cracked and there is no access,” he said.
“There’s a lot of debris and there’s cars are flowing down the river. Last night… people had to be rescued from their homes by the river.”
Radio Samoa’s roof has ripped off and staff have had to relocate the station.
A radio announcer told Radio NZ that the studio was badly damaged.
“Our statio has sustained considerable damage, our roof has blown off and our main studio inside is leaking all over our office. We are now broadcasting inside the site of our standby generators,” Andrew Fa’asa from Samoa Broadcasting Department said.
Samoan photographer Jordan Kwan said this morning they had endured a terror filled night.
“We just went for a quick drive downtown – it’s absolutely flooded! Along the way we passed many homes with roofs ripped off and fallen trees everywhere. Our car had to navigate around debris that heavily littered the main road.
”We also witnessed many families who took advantage of the lull in the weather to pack and head to neighbouring homes for shelter after taking on heavy damages to their homes last night.”
New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley, told Radio NZ’s Morning Report today that the wind and rain was starting to pick up again in Apia.
“We had a period of about four or five hours where there was intermittent rain and gusty wind, which was a bit of a relief after the previous day.
“We’re expecting that cyclone to head back this way, about now it will stop roughly where it is now and then start heading southwest which will bring it back straight over Apia and the south of Samoa.”
He said he has not seen the damage yet because most of it happened in darkness after 8pm.
Most people are still without power, said Hurley.
“One of the first things to come down was the powerlines. One of the problems when we were driving home from the High Commission office is that one of the powerlines had fallen across the road.”
The New Zealand Air Force was on standby to help, but no official request had been made yet.
Jo McIntosh, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs, said aid groups in Fiji would meet today to form a plan to help Samoa.
“Some of the big NGOs will meet today to discuss what the next steps are,” she said.
“We also know the cyclone’s tracking towards Northern Tonga and Fiji, so to come up with an idea of how we will deal with that.”
She said the meeting today would assess how to get clean water to those affected, and logistics.
There are believed to be dozens of New Zealand tourists in the area and New Zealand High Commission officials were this morning trying to make contact with them.
Dozens of tourists who were caught at popular resort Aggie Grey’s Hotel spent a large part of yesterday on the upper floors as flood waters destroyed much of the grounds around it.
Officials said after the cyclone eased off last night the guests, including a number of New Zealanders, were evacuated to Aggies Resort at Faleolo.
No one was hurt but a number have lost possessions.
One witness said the Vaisigano River swept into the hotel, destroying much of its famed fale restaurant and the premier fale rooms.
“The water is up to the third floor of the hotel and the guests are huddling in the upper rooms,” the witness said.
No contact has been made with the popular backpacker and beach fale resorts on the south east coast at Aleipata.
But yesterdy staff at Aleipata’s Taufau Beach Resort said they had moved guests out of the beach fales yesterday.
The area was badly hit during the tsunami which killed 189 people across the region.
The cyclone lingered over Samoa for much of yesterday, causing widespread damage.
In a midnight advisory the Samoa Meteorological Service said the storm had passed over the main island of Upolu, but was likely to stop heading north.
The Fiji Meteorological Service said Evan was moving east at 12 kmh and was anticipated to re-curve towards the west and intensify to a category three hurricane force within the next 24 hours.
FMS forecast Evan to move across northern parts of Tonga tomorrow and arrive in Fiji on Sunday.
FLIGHTS ON HOLD
Air New Zealand cancelled its flight in and out of Samoa yesterday, but it was yet to decided about today’s flight.
It was yet to make a decision on whether its 8.05pm flight from Samoa would go ahead tonight.
If so, an extra flight would leave the island at 9.30pm to make up for a cancelled flight yesterday morning.
House of Travel spokesman Brent Thomas said the agency had about 100 New Zealanders hunkered down at resorts.
Staff were trying to contact providers in the area to assess the situation.
“Luckily it’s low season because it’s not Christmas and the peak season is during winter. A week or two later it would be a different story as families head over when school finishes.
“We’re also concerned about the cyclone’s path towards Tonga tomorrow and Fiji on Sunday.”
Evan, the first cyclone of the South Pacific 2012-2013 season, is likely to be the first big test for a massive seawall built around Apia’s Harbour following two ruinous cyclones in the 1990s.
In 1990, Cyclone Ofa killed seven people and a year later Cyclone Val passed over Samoa and then effectively stopped for five days over the islands killing 16 people and causing severe housing and agricultural damage.
– © Fairfax NZ News