RMI’s Majuro Atoll Battered By Tropical Disturbance

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RMI’s Majuro Atoll Battered By Tropical Disturbance Heavy rains hit capital, storm expected to strengthen as it moves west

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, March 12, 2015) – Big waves and heavy rains battered coastlines in Majuro Atoll and the southern Marshall Islands Wednesday as a tropical disturbance 200 miles south of the capital picked up power.

There was no inundation during the day Wednesday, but weather officials said high winds and waves, coupled with the high tides at 8 p.m. Wednesday and 8:25 a.m. Thursday, could cause islands to be inundated with seawater. Wind strength Wednesday evening had not yet reached sufficient strength for it to be upgraded to a tropical storm.

A visiting yacht was blown onto a reef in Majuro after entering the atoll Tuesday evening, but no one was injured and efforts were underway Wednesday to pull the vessel off the reef.

The U.S. National Weather Service in Guam issued an alert Wednesday describing the storm as "a large tropical disturbance centered over the Marshall Islands" that was moving in a northwesterly direction, bringing gusty winds and locally heavy rainfall throughout the Marshall Islands through Thursday.

The storm was on track to hit Kosrae and Pohnpei Friday.

[PIR editor’s note: Pacific Daily News reported that ‘Forecasters are keeping close watch on a weather system that could turn into a tropical storm and pass over the Mariana Islands this weekend. It has a high probability of becoming a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours, military forecasters stated yesterday afternoon. ... It's uncertain where, exactly, it will pass or how strong it will be when it does.’]

Karl Fellenius, the Marshall Islands Coastal Management Extension Agent for the University of Hawaii based in Majuro, said the storm increases the possibility for flooding at high tides on Wednesday and Thursday because of the heavy surf pounding the ocean reefs of Majuro and other atolls.

"Shoreline inundation of one to three feet can be expected through (Wednesday) night," the Guam storm alert said. The "inundation threat will subside slowly Thursday night and Friday as surf diminishes (in the Marshall Islands)."

Five-to-seven inches of rain are forecast for Wednesday and Thursday in Majuro — more than the total rainfall during February.

The Guam weather office warned Marshall Islands residents of "dangerous surf" through Thursday, and said that hazardous surf will continue in Kosrae through to the weekend.

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