Tropical Cyclone Donna Strengthens As It Hits Vanuatu

Now category 3 storm expected to miss main population centers including Port Vila

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 5, 2017) – A category three tropical cyclone headed to Vanuatu may intensify further by the time it hits the Pacific Island nation this weekend, a local weather expert says.

Tropical Cyclone Donna, which is anticipated to be more intense than Tropical Cyclone Cook which recently struck the region, has already intensified from a category two storm to a category three overnight.

"It is going to be severe [by the time it makes landfall], category three at least and maybe category four, but only time will tell," Neville Koop from the Nadraki Weather Service told ABC's Pacific Beat program.

"It's not going to be the same force as [Tropical Cyclone] Pam but it is going to be … maybe even a little more intense perhaps, if you believe the forecasts that we're seeing right now, than Tropical Cyclone Cook about three or four weeks ago."

Cyclone Cook brought gusts of up to 130 kilometres per hour to Vanuatu in early April, felling trees and knocking out power to some residents in the Capital, Port Vila, but caused no serious damage.

Disaster authorities believe the cyclone, which is slowly moving over waters east of Vanuatu, will hit northern, central and southern parts of the cluster but miss Port Vila and other population centres such as Espiritu Santo.

[PIR editor's note: On May 5, 2017 Vanuatu Diaaly Post reported that 'All schools within the provinces of Torba, Penama and Malampa Province have closed their doors as of yesterday as Category 3, Tropical Cyclone batters the northern part of the country.']

In 2015, the powerful, category five Tropical Cyclone Pam ripped through Vanuatu with wind speeds of 250 kilometres per hour that killed 11 people and left around 75,000 in need of emergency shelter.

Shadrack Welegtabit, Director of Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office, said contingency plans developed after Cyclone Pam had been put in place to make sure the public and emergency services were prepared.

"We have a lot of lessons to learn from TC Pam and we are already implementing recommendations from that, one of which is to ensure that we have good communications linkages," he said.

"And currently a lot of communications [are] still with the private sector and we are working closely with them so we don't lose those communications linkages again."

The official cyclone season in the Pacific ended on April 31.

Mr Koop of the Nadraki Weather Service said while you could never attribute the impact of climate change to an individual event, it was worth nothing that sea temperature had risen by a degree and a half above average in the western Pacific.

"Vanuatu seems to have drawn the short straw in recent years in regards to cyclones, they've had way more than their fair share and this will be just another pause for them in the attempt to recover," he said.

Radio Australia
Copyright © 2017 Radio Australia. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment