Cook Islands Residents Criticize Lack Of Warning For High Winds

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Bad weather hits Rarotonga; Meteorological Service under fire

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Aug. 26, 2015) – Disgruntled Rarotonga residents have hit out strongly at the Cook Islands Meteorological Service for the lack of warning about the bad weather which hit Rarotonga on Monday and Tuesday.

One of them was Andy Olah, who suffered significant wind damage to his properties in Titikaveka and Arorangi and has questioned the weather office’s efficiency.

Olah said the roof of a truck parking building at his Arorangi yard ended up in the next door neighbour’s property, causing significant damage.

Other residents reported roofs blown off sheds, trees blown down and debris spread across roads and properties.

However the weather bulletin on Cook Islands Television on Monday night did not mention anything about strong winds and only indicated "easterly winds" for Rarotonga, Olah said. Cook Islands Meteorological Service director Arona Ngari said his staff had not received the strong wind warning when they recorded the weather bulletin.

"The warning was issued around 6pm. It was, however, relayed to radio stations for broadcasting on air."

Ngari said the strong winds and heavy rain were the result of a trough of slow-moving trough of low pressure that had settled over the island.

He said while the weather was expected to improve in the next couple of days, people needed to take heed of the conditions and keep themselves safe at all times.

"A trough of low pressure has been there since Monday but it won’t last long. The rainfall is expected to go on for a couple of days."

Total rainfall recorded in the 24 hours from Monday morning was 33 millimetres. The highest fall of 13.9mm was recorded at 2am early yesterday. Wind gusts of 19 to 30 knots were also recorded.

"People need to take precautions, given the strength of the wind. They should try to keep themselves indoors most of the time," Ngari said.

"They should also try to secure their houses, tie the roofs down or put something heavy on the roofs and trim the branches trees near their homes to keep them safe from these windy conditions."

With the country heading towards cyclone season which starts in November, Ngari said Rarotonga residents needed to get prepared for the worst.

The current El Nino condition poses the risk of a sharp surge in cyclone activity.

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