More cyclones loom for the region?

As many as 11 predicted in next 3 months

It’s been slow in coming this season but the next three months could bring as many as 11 cyclones to the Pacific islands region. In the preceding 2012-13 November-April cyclone season, the region took the brunt of 24 cyclones including the killer Cyclone Evan which claimed 14 lives in Samoa. Its devastation was also felt in Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga and Wallis and Futuna Islands, which left a destruction bill of US$200 million and several islands’ economies in tatters. But against all odds, the last six months of 2013 to December has been different—the region was spared of tropical storms. Meteorologists argue that an average of 27 cyclones a year have frequented the islands region in the last 20 years, from 1981 to 2012. Cyclone watchers in Australia say the cyclone are due to neutral El Nino-La Nina conditions in the region. The occurrence of tropical cyclones in the vast Oceanic region is monitored by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in Nadi and the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres in Brisbane and Wellington. The three offices estimate between eight to 12 cyclones for the season—especially affecting Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. 

Fiji’s director of meteorological services Alipate Waqaicelua told the Australian media that certain countries close to the dateline are at high risk of severe cyclones this year. “We do expect a few of those to be severe, we’re looking at four severe cases of very high risk around Tonga, Fiji, Wallis, Futuna and New Caledonia, and high risks for Tokelau and Samoa and Niue, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. “And for the Cook Islands, we’re looking at low to moderate risk for severe cyclones.” Waqaicelua said his regional Nadi office anticipates the average to below average season. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re looking at four to eight tropical cyclones within the year.”

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