The Cook Islands Meteorological Service is hoping the country will be clear of any imminent danger from Tropical Cyclone Victor by later today.
The cyclone – which is the third of the projected 12 expected to hit the South Pacific region including the Cook Islands this cyclone season – was yesterday located just over 300 kilometres west of Palmerston.
Service director Arona Ngari said Victor was travelling at a speed of five knots with 65 knots close to the centre of the system.
The weather bulletin for southern Cook Islands including Rarotonga yesterday said “an active convergence zone with associated gale force winds remains slow moving over southern Cooks”.
Ngari said the cyclone was moving away from the Cook Islands towards Niue and Tonga at a very slow pace.
“Because it is slow moving, we cannot really say when the weather will clear up. Once it picks up speed, there will be no holding back,” he said.
“The upper air indicates it will move towards south to southwest. Cyclone Victor is taking more of a westerly track than southerly which means it is moving away from us.
“Basing on the southwest
direction it has taken, it is highly unlikely to turn back but things do change and we will keep on monitoring its progress.”
The slow pace of Victor is indicating the cyclone is gaining strength in the path it is following.
Ngari said Palmerston had been facing some adverse weather conditions since
Friday because the island was the nearest island to the
category three cyclone.
Palmerston Island Administration executive officer Arthur Neale, in an update yesterday morning, said wind direction had changed to the north with noticeable increase in average speeds and gusts.
He estimated average wind of 45 to 50 knots, gusting up to 60 to 70 knots.
Neale said during high tide yesterday morning, flooding reached the first set of sheds and shanties on the beach, about 25 metres from mean high-water mark.
And during low tide, he said, flooding level was up to the bush line around the island.
More flooding was expected especially the area on the north (beach) side of the road at high tide at midday yesterday.
“Periods of heavy rain with strong squalls and thunderstorms throughout the night (Saturday) and continuing on this morning and expected throughout the day (yesterday),” Neale said.
“The population is safe – all are indoors. Only admin staff and police taking patrols in monitoring conditions.”
JeanMarie Williams from Manihiki told CI News that the winds have died down a bit and the seas remain rough but calming down.
The Cook Islands Christian Church roof on the island had been re-nailed down and otherwise everyone was safe, he said.
In Rarotonga, police closed the road along Nikao seawall after swells broke over the seawall causing danger to motorists using the road yesterday.
Police Inspector John Hosking said they were also patrolling the area and Avarua wharf to clamp down on youths swimming in the big waves.
Police had not received any report regarding damage or fatalities from the rough weather when this edition went to print yesterday.
Emergency Management Cook Islands director Charles Carlson is pleased with the awareness among the public and their preparedness for the cyclone season.