South Pacific: Tropical Cyclone Lola Threatens Vanuatu

The first tropical cyclone of the South Pacific cyclone season has arrived in the southwest Pacific, just over a week before the official start of the season on November 1, 2023 and has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm.

Published 7 months ago

News Update: Morning October 24

Tropical Cyclone Lola has intensified to a Category 5 super cyclone with winds close to its centre of 215 km/h according to latest reports from the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department.

Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office said red alerts have been issued for two more provinces as the Category 5 Cyclone Lola approaches the eastern islands.

The Provinces of Penama and Malampa, Torba and Sanma are on red alert – the highest alert level in Vanuatu – signalling a cyclone is imminent and that people need to stay in a secure shelter or other safe place.

At 8am local time on Tuesday October 24, the cyclone was 190km east of Sola and 180km northeast of Maewo, moving in a southerly direction at 4 km/h.

Refer to local warning information for TC Lola at the website: www.vmgd.gov.vu

Previous News Morning October 23: TC Cylcone Lola Develops north of Vanuatu

Severe Tropical Cyclone Lola, named by the Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre, is tracking north of Vanuatu and east of the Santa Cruz islands and is expected to increase in strength to a Category 3 by Monday evening October 23 and could even become a Category 4 by midnight.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department warned on Monday morning that heavy rain was expected over the island nation. Flash flooding, including coastal flooding, was expected in low-lying areas and close to river banks.

Sadly this will be the 4th TC this year to impact Vanuatu after Irene, Judy & Kevin last season during Jan-Mar 2023.

Image from Fiji Met Service website.

People in the province of Torba, Penama and Sanma will be directly affected in the next 48 to 72 hours by hurricane force winds of up to 185km/h.

The Nadi cyclone centre predicted Lola would travel southwest in the next day or two, with the centre of the cyclone crossing the northern Vanuatu island of Espiritu Santo early Wednesday.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand expects nine to 14 cyclones this season – nine being the long-term average. Four to eight of these are expected to be severe.

NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll said El Niño had increased the risk.

“El Niño, it does tend to enhance the risk for cyclone activity near and east of the International Dateline, so for countries like Fiji, the Cook Islands, and many in between.”

During El Niño 1982/83, there were 10 severe cyclones in the South Pacific.

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