Two tropical cyclone form in the South Pacific
Two tropical cyclones are active in the South Pacific.
Tropical cyclone Pat developed Wednesday and grew from tropical storm status to essentially a Category 1 hurricane or typhoon on the Stafford Simpson Scale as shown in the graphic above. The scale for the southern hemisphere is different, these windspeeds would make Pat a Category 3 cyclone.
Cyclone Pat hit the Cook Islands causing damage to homes and trees, bringing down power lines. The main island of Rarotonga was spared of major damage but the smaller island of Aitutaki was essentially destroyed with around 90% of homes on the island destroyed. Fortunately there do not appear to be any injuries or deaths.
Tropical cyclone hits Cook Islands, no injuries (China Post)
A tropical cyclone smashed houses, trees and power lines as it cut a swath through the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, officials said Thursday.
Cyclone Pat spared the main island of Rarotonga but was one of the biggest storms to hit the low-lying coral atoll of Aitutaki in about 20 years, damaging 90 percent of the houses on the island of 2,000 people, said Inspector Teri Pati of the National Disaster Management Center on Rarotonga.
There were no initial reports of deaths or injuries from the storm, which struck late Wednesday, though injuries were likely, he said.
The government declared an emergency on Aitutaki, a move to help with recovery and repairs and likely to also attract assistance from nearby New Zealand.
"It's one of the worst cyclones to have struck the island just judging by the reported damage," Pati told New Zealand's National Radio.
Tropical Cyclone Pat is dissipating and is expected to be non-existant within 24 - 48 hours.
A day later Tropical cyclone Rene formed in about the same area. Rene is tracking towards Samoa and American Samoa and is expected to strengthen to around a Category 3 cyclone as well.While Rene is further west than Pat, The Northern Cook Islands are expected to be hit by Rene just days after being pounded by Cyclone Pat.
Second cyclone set to hit Cook Islands (NZ Herald)
A second tropical cyclone is forecast to hit the Cook Islands after a State of Disaster has been declared on the island of Aitutaki.
The Fiji Meteorological Service is forecasting Cyclone Rene to hit Nassau, Pukapuka, Suwarrow and nearby islands with gale force winds.
Current windspeeds of 95 kphmake Rene a Category 2 cyclone which is heading towards the Lau Island Group as it intensifies.
Cyclone Rene will affect the Lau group (FBC)
People living in the Lau Group and surrounding areas have been warned to expect heavy swells and strong winds as Tropical Cyclone Rene continues to intensify between Samoa and Tonga.
The Nadi weather office says Tropical Cyclone Rene’s projected path is still uncertain, but could affect the Lau Group and other places.
Tropical Cyclone Rene is presently a Category 2 cyclone and has average winds of 95 kilometres. It is expected to intensify into a Category 3 status with in the next 24 hours.
New cyclone heads for Samoa (Stuff.co.nz)
A third cyclone in two weeks has formed north of Samoa and is expected to double back on itself and threaten tsunami damaged areas and Niue.
Cyclone Rene follows Cyclones Oli and Pat, which caused major damage and injury, but no deaths, on the Cook Islands and French Polynesia.
The Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre says Rene is 130 kilometres southwest of Nassau Island and 170 kilometres south-southwest of Pukapuka in the northern Cook Islands.
The Honolulu Joint Typhoon Warning Centre says Rene is moving east but in the next couple of hours will sharply turn southwest toward Niue.
A wide area of the Pacific is under alert including the southern coasts of Samoa and American Samoa which were badly affected by last year's deadly tsunami.