February ‘danger’ month

Friday December 29, 2017 Written by Published in Weather

We’re already two months into the 2017-2018 tropical cyclone season and no adverse weather conditions have affected the Cook Islands.


However, the local weatherman is warning that the picture could be different in February.

Forecasters say around eight to 10 named tropical cyclones are expected to form in the Southwest Pacific between November this year and April next year.

They predict the Cook Islands is unlikely to face the direct brunt of any of these predicted storms.

But Cook Islands Metrological Service director Arona Ngari says the Cook Islands, which is located in a “reduced activity zone,” is likely to feel the presence of a tropical cyclone after February, 2018.

“We looking at probably later in the New Year towards the end of January or into February, that’s when we can expect a cyclone, if there are any, in the Cook Islands,” Ngari said.

“The end of January and February are normally active months as far as the history of cyclones (in the Cook Islands) is concerned. If there is anything brewing up, it’s normally around February.

“All we can do at the moment is prepare ourselves to face any disaster (that might) occur.”

A tropical depression developed near Fiji last week but subsided before it could advance into first of the predicted 10 tropical cyclones for the region.

A statement on the tropical cyclone outlook for the 2017/18 season from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Meteorological Service of New Zealand (MetService) in October said around four storms were anticipated to reach at least category three, bringing wind speeds of up to 118kmh.

Of these, the statement said, two might increase to at least category four strength, with mean wind speeds of 159 km/h.

Tonga, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, northern New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have been categorised as having normal or above normal risks of cyclones.

The Cook Islands, the Marquesas Islands and French Polynesia were said to have a reduced risk of cyclones due to the global trend towards a La Nina climate system.

These predictions by NIWA and MetService were based on the study of weather patterns from the past 50 years which included a study of tropical cyclones in 1969, 1978, 1985 and 2007, focusing on where they formed and how intense they were.

Ngari said the Met Service had been updating its social media sites regularly to ensure the public was well informed of any adverse weather condition likely to threaten this country.

He said they also had access to the Tropical Cyclone Outlook which advises them on any potential cyclone around the region.

“We keep promoting the weather updates on our Facebook page which gets about 6000 hits a day.

“This shows that people are vigilant and checking up on weather forecasts to be better prepared,” Ngari said.

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