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Penrhyn residents still disappointed about lack of timely weather warning

Friday 8 December 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Local, National, Outer Islands, Weather

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Penrhyn residents still disappointed about lack of timely weather warning
Roofing in Omoka, Penrhyn were blown off yesterday morning in strong winds. SUPPLIED/23120531

Penrhyn Island executive officer Puna Vano remains disappointed at the lack of prior weather warning for the strong winds which damaged eight homes on the island.

The high winds on early Tuesday morning, around 2am, caused roof damage and toppled breadfruit trees.

Vano previously expressed his concern about the absence of any warning from Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI). He has yet to receive an explanation from John Strickland, EMCI director.

Cook Islands News also contacted EMCI, but no response has been received at the time of publication.

Arona Ngari, Cook Islands Meteorological Service director, yesterday clarified that early weather warnings are issued through various media channels, including radio, television, the website, Facebook, and email.

“The process is also conveyed to EMCI for their distribution to others within their network. Communities are also encouraged to inform the Met Office if they want to receive these directly to their emails,” Ngari said.

“The Strong Wind Warning issued on the day had all the information needed to be conveyed to everyone.”

Vano proposed text messaging or Facebook Messenger as easier communication methods. However, Ngari responded: “Text messaging is something that has been considered but with a high cost associated with it. Messenger is currently used by the Met Office and normally gets some shares from other agencies so as to become more transparent.”

Looking ahead, Ngari anticipates continued strong winds due to frontal systems and high pressures to the south.

“It must be understood that the strong warning is not associated with tropical cyclones as the criteria for such phenomena are not met. Such parameters as a low-pressure system, warm sea surface temperatures and light winds in the atmosphere, to name a few.”

He added that the current strong wind warning will remain in effect until the weekend. Cloud bands between the two Pa Enua will bring showers to the north, while intermittent showers are expected in the south.

Ngari also highlighted the seasonal nature of these weather systems and the recent confirmation of El Niño, which increases the risk of tropical cyclones for countries east of the dateline, including the Cook Islands and Tahiti.