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Aitutaki schools closed as tropical depression looms

Thursday 15 February 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Education, National, Outer Islands, Weather


Aitutaki schools  closed as tropical  depression looms
Tropical Depression 10F track map issued by the Meteorological Service yesterday. Supplied / 24021413

Schools in Aitutaki have closed following reports of an approaching tropical depression, but Emergency Management Cook Islands says the system does not pose a threat ‘at this moment’.

Aitutaki schools are closed for three days following an advice from the Aitutaki Island Council.

Secretary of Education Owen Lewis says the Island Council enacted the closure of schools. Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) is monitoring the weather pattern and will continue to advise the island council, Lewis said.

Aitutaki executive officer Tuaine George said schools were closed due to bad weather.

The closure of schools comes after a warning was issued by the Cook Islands Meteorological Service (CIMS) yesterday on a tropical depression (TD10F) that was forecasted to track through the Southern Cook Islands bringing in strong winds and heavy rain.

EMCI director John Strickland said Wednesday evening that there was no threat of the tropical depression “at this time” and if such a time would come, they would issue an advisory.

Strickland said they would continue to monitor the weather with the Met Office and would advise if there were any further developments.

Last night on their Facebook page, EMCI said: "At this time, we advise to take the warnings seriously and remain on alert by following EMCI or Cook Islands Meteorological Service Facebook pages. As this Tropical Disturbance develops, we ask that you stay calm, prepare for strong winds, possible flooding and rough seas. Please keep in contact with your family members whereabouts. Please make informed decisions over the next few days."

The weather office yesterday said the chances for this system to intensify into a tropical cyclone is moderate to high upon analysis in the next 24-48 hours.

As of yesterday, the tropical depression system was still tracking towards the Southern Cook Islands and the weather office says strong winds are expected with periods of rain, heavy at times and a few thunderstorms. Increasing sea swells are also expected.

Aitutaki was already experiencing some heavy rain yesterday evening and a parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said schools were advised to close until further notice. The residents were also putting up the shutters around their homes.

Another resident Charles Muriwai said the Island Council may have advised the residents through the radio, but for him he was closely monitoring the weather through other means such as through weather reports from

Muriwai said they were already experiencing heavy rain yesterday, and as per the monitoring system he follows, he expects more rain today.

He said his main concern would be tomorrow afternoon “because of TD10F as wind gusts are expected to pick up and Rarotonga could feel the brunt of it”.

Muriwai urged people to be cautious and “don’t take things for granted”.

The weather office also issued a gale warning for Palmerston Islands and nearby smaller islands with a gale alert in force for the rest of Southern Cook Islands.

Palmerston Island resident Julianna Marsters said as of yesterday they had a few showers and winds were westerly.