Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wake Up! Trouble Afoot!

The folks in Fiji are on alert:
Issued from RSMC Nadi at 4.30pm Monday
15 Mar 2010

Category 4 Tropical Cyclone (TC) Tomas had its centre located just east-southeast of Cikobia and about 60 km eastnortheast of Udu Point 4 pm today. The cyclone is moving south at about 10 km/hr.

Though still a Category 4 Hurricane, TC Tomas has intensified a little more from this morning. Estimate average winds of 95 knots (175km/hr) and momentary gust up to 125 knots (230 km/hr) close to the centre. Damaging gale force winds extend to about 150 nautical miles (280km) from the centre.

TC Tomas has maintained a very slow southward movement all day today and is expected to continue moving south at this slow pace for the next 24 hours. Thereafter, it should curve southeastwards and accelerate. It should also intensify a little more but reach peak strength within the next 12 hours or so.

The core of the cyclone (storm/hurricane force winds), after passing over Cikobia Island, should be moving southward onto eastern Vanua Levu, Rabi, Kioa, Taveuni, Laucala, Qamea and nearby islands overnight, and spread to Northern and Central Lau tomorrow. High winds and very heavy rain is expected as the “eye: of the cyclone passes overhead or nearby.

Most of the Northern Division and almost whole of the Eastern Division should experience severe effects of the Hurricane including flooding from the sea due to storm tide (storm surge+ high astronomical tide) and wave effect (phenomenal seas and swells generated from high winds).

With its southward course now, the Central Division may only escape with marginal effect of TC Tomas, i.e. with damaging gale force (35-40 knot) winds which usually causes damage to weak, temporary structures and vegetation (shallow rooted crops, tree branches, etc.). However, heavy rain is expected with flooding of low lying areas and even some rivers/streams.

The Western Division should largely escape with only strong winds, except for Sigatoka, Coral Coast and Rakiraki which could experience marginal gales (up to 35 knot winds). No significant flooding is expected in Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Tavua either.
Meanwhile, the Aussies have noted TC Ului's existence, but don't seem sufficiently alarmed yet:
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

Issued at 10:16am EST on Monday the 15th of March 2010

At 10 am EST Monday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului [Category 4] with central
pressure 940 hPa was located over the Coral Sea near latitude 12.9 south
longitude 159.7 east, which is about 1450 km northeast of Mackay.

The cyclone is moving west southwest at about 7 kilometres per hour.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului poses no immediate threat to the Queensland coast
and is expected to remain well off the Queensland coast for at least the next
few days.

Its longer term forecast track is still uncertain but at this stage the most
likely scenario is for Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului to remain offshore and track
in a general southerly direction.

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