Forecast highlights cyclone danger

Saturday October 17, 2015 Written by Published in Weather

The Cook Islands could face as many as 13 of the Category 1 or stronger tropical cyclones predicted for the region in coming months.


New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) this week forecast an elevated risk for countries east of the international dateline which includes the northern and southern Cook Islands.

Cook Islands Meteorological Services director Arona Ngari says an increase in the predicted number of cyclones is a result of the strong El Nino event that has affected local weather patterns since the beginning of the year.

He says the country faces a dry period and with the official tropical cyclone season about to begin, there is an enhanced risk of cyclones over the warmer months.

Although NIWA has talked about the importance of staying vigilant, the Cook Islands Meteorological Service wants to re-emphasise this point and ask communities to prepare themselves for the cyclone season, which runs from November to April, “in the best possible manner.”

“Some basic information that can be useful is to know the location of evacuation centres on your island, save drinking water and some food and clean and warm clothes and secure your home as much as you can.”

NIWA says meteorological and climate analysis centres across the Southwest Pacific are indicating above average numbers of tropical cyclones for the 2015–16 season. 

An institute spokesman says these cyclones will be aggravated by a strong El Nino which is still affecting the region.

The 30-year average number of all Southwest Pacific tropical storms that formed between 1981-2010 is 12.4, NIWA says.

“The average number of storms that developed into named tropical cyclones (Category 1 or stronger) during the same interval is 10.4 for the Southwest Pacific basin. The outlook indicates that 11 to 13 named tropical cyclones are expected for the coming season.

“It should be recognised that the six-month outlook reflects an expectation of overall elevated activity during both the early season (November to January) and the late season (February to April), particularly east of the dateline.”

Ngari says it should be remembered that weather events such as tropical cyclones, do not always need to turn into disasters.

“They can be managed and can have a minimum impact if everyone is prepared.”

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