Tropical Cyclone Oma track: 'Severe' Category 2 tropical storm to batter Vanuatu

Tropical Cyclone Oma track: 'Severe' Category 2 tropical storm to batter Vanuatu
Wed, 13 Feb 2019 09:09:00 +0000

Oma formed in the South Pacific Ocean on Tuesday and will bring torrential rain and strong winds to the islands. Fred Jockley, head forecaster for Vanuatu’s Meteorological Service, said people needed to heed messages from the National Disaster Management Office to prepare themselves for the cyclone. He said: “For those who have not taken the warning seriously, they should start preparing themselves before the system actually comes over if it maintains its track of movement.”

As of 5pm local time (6am GMT) Oma is 50km west-southwest of Santo and 200km southwest of Sola and is moving east-southeast.

The weather service warned of heavy rain and flash flooding especially close to the river banks and coastal flooding.

Winds close to the centre are estimated at 95km/h (59mph) and gusts of 130km/h (81mph/h) are expected.

Vanuatu’s Meteorological Service said: “Coastal flooding will continue to affect Torba, Sanma, Penama, and Malampa provinces tonight.

“Seas will be very rough to phenomenal with heavy and phenomenal swells expected.

“People, including sea going vessels are strongly advised not to go out to sea until the system has moved out of the area.

“The Marine strong wind warning and high seas warning are current for northern and central coastal and open waters.”

The number of provinces predicted to bear the brunt of Cyclone Oma has been extended.

The provinces affected now includes Torba, Sanma, Penma and Malampa which have been placed on red alert by the National Disaster Office.

Shea Province and the capital Port Vila is on Yellow alert meaning it too must be ready to shut down.

Presley Tari, communications officer for the National Disaster Management Office, said with an increasing number of disasters over recent years, people in Vanuatu knew what to do.

Most part of the country were likely be shut down as the cyclone moves in from the south.

He said: “NDMO is advising everyone to stay alert in their houses. Prepare themselves for the cyclone coming.

“So we are asking those with the red alert to close down their business and even the schools I think [are] already closed like in the places where the red alert is.”

New Caledonia is at risk as Oma slowly tracks towards the islands and is expected to hover near the group of islands for more than a week, which will further the risk for dangerous weather.

If weather conditions intensify the storm could potentially grow into a ’severe’ tropical cyclone.

Oma is likely to track southwards towards New Caledonia with the potential for a direct strike on Grand Terre during the weekend.

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