A satellite view of Cyclone Pam overwhelming Cook Islands and the southwest Pacific in 2015. 15031016
Scientists warn the Cook Islands and equatorial Pacific region face new extremes of weather.
Climate change, combined with a possible weak El Niño event, could mean Rarotonga will face tropical cyclones in the near future and the Cook Islands climate will continue to vary.
El Niño is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean: the interaction between the atmosphere and ocean in the tropical Pacific has a global impact on weather patterns, and can create intense storms.
Increasingly, Cook Islanders are keeping a weather eye to the forecasts and to the horizon.
Paddler Josie Bain, who paddles with the Ngakau Toa Vaka Club twice a week down at Trader Jacks, said she’ll go out when it’s a bit rough and raining – but sometimes for as much as a week, it would be too intense to go out.
Bain doesn’t think she’s yet seen signs of the weather in Rarotonga changing dramatically.
But scientists say the impacts of El Niño events have become more severe over the past 20 years due to a warmer climate.
Arona Ngari, director of the Met Service said this would indicate a cyclone or two for the summer period in Rarotonga.