Category 5 Cyclone Pam To Strike Vanuatu

Tropical Cyclone Pam
PHOTO: A map issued on March 11, 2015 shows the predicted path of Cyclone Pam as it heads between Vanuatu and Fiji. (Vanuatu Meteorology Department)
The Vanuatu Meteorological Service has issued a second weather warning to parts of the country’s north with Tropical Cyclone Pam predicted to intensify into a category five storm by Friday.
Renewed wind warnings were issued to the provinces of Torba, Sanma, Malampa and Penama as the severe cyclone, currently rated a category three storm, passes between Vanuatu and Fiji. The storm is predicted to increase into a category four system tonight.
The service predicted gale-force winds for the southern part of Vanuatu including Port Vila would start from 11:00pm (local time) tonight.
Senior forecaster for the service, Allan Ravai, said winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour were expected within the next 24 hours as the system moved south at a speed of 10 kilometres per hour.
“We still advise people of the damaging winds and very rough seas with heavy swells, mainly for the northern provinces,” Mr Ravai told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program.
He said heavy rain and flooding was also expected in Vanuatu’s north, including coastal flooding.
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Photo by @orrnyereg
Mr Ravai said the cyclone is predicted to become a category five system on Friday when it is 120 kilometres east of the country’s central island.
Australian Bureau of Meteorology national operations centre head Andrew Tupper said Pacific nations were on high alert.
“This is actually the most significant cyclone of all in terms of its size, which is very large, and its intensity,” Mr Tupper said.
“It’s forecast to thread the needle between Vanuatu and Fiji as it moves south, but probably a little bit too close to Vanuatu for anybody’s liking.”
UNICEF Pacific said it would meet with Vanuatu’s national disaster management team on Wednesday to discuss cyclone preparations.
A heavy rain and gale wind warning is also in place for Fiji. Shipping vessels have been ordered to stay in port, while residents in Fiji have been urged not to head out to sea this week.
Residents in the eastern parts of Solomon Islands have also been told to expect heavy rain, gale-force winds and high seas.
Meanwhile, Queensland coastal communities are preparing for Cyclone Nathan which is located off the state’s far north coast.
Although close, the two systems are not expected to merge.
Courtesy of ABC Net

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