13 Dec 2012

Samoa and American Samoa issue alerts for tropical cyclone Evan

10:13 am on 13 December 2012

Fiji's Meterological Service says cyclone Evan may well become more intense as it turns towards Tonga and Fiji over the weekend.

The Director of the Met Service Alipate Waqaicelua says the cyclone is currently over Samoa and is heading for American Samoa but he expects it will make a u-turn and head back in a westerly direction in the next 24 hours.

He says the northern islands of Tonga are likely to feel the impact on Saturday and Fiji will be directly affected on Sunday.

He says cyclone Evan has gone from a category one to its current rating of two but it may well be upgraded back to a category one system.

"The land mass of Samoa has interfered with the intensity and its structure so it might appear it had weakened but we expect this cyclone to retain a category two or even intensify further as it turn toward the west and heads towards Tonga and Fiji."

Alipate Waqaicelua says high and damaging sea swells are a feature of the cyclone.

Samoa's disaster advisory committee are to meet this morning.

The weather office has issued its third special weather bulletin with a storm and a hurricane warnings as well as flood advice for the whole country.

The latest report says the cyclone is moving east of Samoa at 13 knots with sustained winds of over 90 kilometres an hour close to the centre.

The special bulletin says if it continues on its current track, the cyclone is expected to be about 9 kilometres east of Apia at 2pm this afternoon.

The lead forecaster at the Samoa Metservice, Mulipola Ausetalia Titimaea, says they are now starting to feel the effects of the cyclone.

We have experienced in exposed areas strong gale force winds but it is gusting up to, on the highlands, about 50 knots to 60 knots in some areas. The disaster advisory committee will be meeting this morning and hopefully we can activate disaster management procedures.

The lead forecaster at the Samoa Metservice, Mulipola Ausetalia Titimaea.

Reports also say power is off in many villages, and trees are also down and some parts of the country are flooded after heavy rain overnight.

Our correspondent says shops in the capital are busy with people lining up to buy food, batteries, small portable radio sets, candles and hurricane lanterns.

Meanwhile, American Samoa is now under a storm warning and a hurricane watch is also in effect for all of American Samoa and that includes Tutuila, Aunuu, Manu'a and Swains.

Early this morning, the centre of Tropical Cyclone Evan was located 241 kilometres west of the main island Tutuila.

Meteorologist Carol Maafala Bacqui says a number of strong wind warnings have been issued for the whole territory.

We are defintely expecting to pick up by this afternoon into this evening, where it will defintely represent storm force warnings and going into Thursday we are going to at least see winds also picking up to hurricane force winds.

Carol Maafala Bacqui of the Met office in American Samoa.

Meanwhile in all public and private schools in the Territory have been cancelled for today because of Cyclone Evan.

Our correspondent, Monica Miller, says government offices will close at midday today, and all employees have been told to secure their offices before going home.

She says the Territorial Christmas Programme that was supposed to open tonight has now been cancelled.

She also adds Polynesian Airlines and Inter Island Air have cancelled their inter island flights.

The Samoa ferry Lady Naomi has cancelled its return trip to Apia this evening.