Pacific told up to 13 cyclones possible this season
Pacific is told to prepare for more and stronger cyclones over the coming season.
New Zealand's Institute of Atmospheric Research is forecasting an increase in the number and strength of cyclones in the south-west Pacific this cyclone season.
With the strongest El Nino in sixty years, NIWA scientists are predicting up to 13 cyclones in the next six months in which some could hit the strongest category of 5, with winds reaching 200 kilometres an hour.
Its principal scientist Chris Brandolino spoke with Jim Mora.
CHRIS BRANDOLINO: Generally speaking when you look at an average or typical year, the 30 year average from 81 to 2010 says that 10.4 named, tropical cyclones, that's Category One or higher, occurred in the south west Pacific basin on average during a typical cyclone season. This year we are tipping between 11 and 13 named storms, so that's elevated. We are also expecting six Category Three tropical cyclones, and four of those, four of that six, may reach Category Four strength, so the message here is that there is an elevated risk for increased activity and increased intense tropical cyclones.
JIM MORA: Possibilities of Category Five?
CB: Yes there is a increased likelihood of multiple Category Four or Five systems.
JM: Chris, I know you say guidance not gospel but can I ask you for a few specifics, even if they are best guesses - which islands in the Pacific are at greatest risk, do you think?
CB: Vanuatu is up there. Wallis and Futuna is up there. Let's see here - also looking at Samoa, that's an elevated risk. Also over towards the Society Islands, northern Cooks - those are areas that have an elevated risk. It should be noted that the elevated risk exists both early season and late season, however when you break it down the focus for the elevated risk is situated closer to the Dateline - say north of Fiji, early in the season, in the first three months. And that fits our narrative quite well because, as we speak, up to the north, north of Fiji, there is some disturbed weather, there is unsettledness - there are showers, thunderstorms, spinning air. There is a possibility we could see some tropical development over the next couple of days. As the season unfolds, while the risk remains elevated, the focus will tend to shift farther east to French Polynesia, as we enter the last 3 months of the tropical cyclone season.
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