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APCEDI Alert SP/Fj 15P Gene #7-2008: Cyclone Gene pounds southern Vanuatu and causes serious damage on Futuna, but begins to move away

The RSMC-Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre, the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre continue to issue guidance on Tropical Cyclone Gene that is now moving away from Vanuatu after pounding the southernmost islands.

The centre of Cyclone Gene is located 75 km east-northeast of the southernmost Vanuatu island of Anatom at 5 PM this evening Vanuatu time with the centre of the storm likely to sideswipe the island to the southeast before moving away from Vanuatu. Gene is maintaining a slow forward speed to the south-southwest at 4 km/hr. Cyclone Gene continues to maintain strength and has again formed a clear eye feature.

The current forecast map shows Gene continuing to recurve towards the south and will begin to move away from Vanuatu this evening. Southern recurvature now looks strong enough to avoid a direct hit on New Caledonia.

Cyclone Gene is currently at a strong Category 2 strength on the Saffir Simpson Scale. This equates to a Category 3 on the Australia Scale and will remain at this strength as it begins to move away to the south and into the open South Pacific Ocean.

Cyclone Warnings remain in place for all of Tafea Province of Southern Vanuatu including the islands of Erromango, Tanna, Anatom, Aniwa and Futuna and all adjacent small islands. A Cyclone warning has now been discontinued for Shefa Province of Central Vanuatu.

Here is an island by island breakdown for Tafea Province.

Futuna, population 400; Futuna, Vanuatu's easternmost island, has received the worst impact from the storm having been battered for nearly 18 hours by the intense centre part of this slow moving cyclone. Severe and widespread damage is being reported throughout the island including the damage or complete loss of many homes, and the island's churches and schools and other buildings. However, the 400 residents have so far been reported safe riding out the storm in stronger shelters. Given the rough, steep volcanic terrain, flash flooding off the volcano slopes continues to be a severe threat. Seas will be phenomenal and likely to cause severe coastal erosion and tidal flooding. Futuna will likely need immediate and long-term relief assistance as soon as possible given the widespread destruction to buildings and crops.

Anatom (Anietyum), population 800; Anatom, Vanuatu's southernmost island, is also taking a strong pounding from the storm and will continue to experience very bad conditions for some 6-10 more hours as Cyclone Gene passes to the southeast. Little information has been heard from Anatom as communications are down, but similar type damage as that experienced on Futuna is likely. Given the rough, steep volcanic terrain, flash flooding off the volcanic slopes could be severe. Seas will be phenomenal and likely to cause severe coastal erosion and tidal flooding. The extent of the damage will depend on how close the storm moves past the island as it begins to recurve away. Anatom will also likely need immediate and long-term relief assistance as soon as possible given the likelihood of widespread destruction to buildings and crops.

Tanna, population 26,000; Tanna, the island with the Province's largest population, has escaped the brunt of the storm. However widespread minor to moderate damage is being reported from around the island particularly on south and east sides. Communication has been lost with many villages, but it is likely that lots of trees are down, crops damaged and some damage to structures. No one has been reported injured so far. Given the rough, steep volcanic terrain, flash flooding off the volcano slopes could be severe. Seas will be phenomenal and likely to cause severe coastal erosion and tidal flooding. This assessment also applies to the small island of Aniwa, population 400, which lies off the northeast coast of Tanna and which has lost all communication to Vila.

Erromango, population 1,500; The northernmost island escaped the full brunt of Cyclone Gene but did experience some destructive gale force winds, very rough seas and heavy rains. Damage has been widespread but mostly minor and limited to trees and powerlines down although many villages on the south and east coast have lost communication. Given the rough, steep volcanic terrain, flash flooding off the volcano slopes could be severe. Seas will be phenomenal and likely to cause severe coastal erosion and tidal flooding.

New Caledonia remains on Cyclone Alert but the threat to the territory has been reduced as the cyclone looks like it will recurve tot he south. Nonetheless heavy rains, and very high seas will occur in some area. The New Caledonian islands of Lifou, Maré and Ouvéa should be particularly watchful as the storm passes to the east of these islands.

All residents and interests in Southern Vanuatu and New Caledonia should monitor the progress of the storm and follow all cyclone advice that the Government issues. Cyclone Gene continues to be a strong and dangerous storm capable of considerable widespread and severe damage on any islands near to where the centre of the storm passes.

EFFECTS OF CYLCONE GENE ON FIJI

Gene caused widespread minor to moderate damage across both of the main Fiji islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu as well as Taveuni and the Yasawa and Mamanuca Groups and many other outliers near the big islands. Many trees were brought down, and power was temporarily cut to wide areas including Suva and Nadi. Widespread low-level crop and vegetation damage is also reported as well as superficial damage to some homes and buildings. However, the lower strength of the storm limited more severe wind damage. Power has been already restored in many areas. River flooding from continuing rains associated with the system has destroyed some homes in both Navua and Nadi, and in a few other areas. Two people were killed as an indirect result of Cyclone Gene from house fires while using candles to light their homes when the power went out. 5 others deaths have been attributed to storm or flood related incidents. FijiLive has some good e-coverage.

ALERTS AND WARNINGS

VANUATU

A CYCLONE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR TAFEA PROVINCE INCLUDING ERROMANGO, TANNA, ANATOM, ANIWA AND FUTUNA.

A CYCLONE WARNING HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED FOR CENTRAL VANUATU.

NEW CALEDONIA/ NOUVELLE CALEDONIE

A CYCLONE WATCH AND ALERT REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR ALL NEW CALEDONIA INCLUDING THE ISLANDS OF LIFOU, OUVÉA AND MARÉ.

From the RSMC-Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre

Vanuatu Advisory

Special Advisory Number FOURTEEN for Vanuatu on TC GENE ISSUED FROM RSMC NADI

Feb 01/0155 UTC 2008 UTC.

SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE GENE CENTRE [945HPA] CAT 3 NEAR 19.9S 170.8E AT 010000 UTC. POSITION FAIR BASED ON MTSAT EIR/VIS IMAGERY AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS. CYCLONE NOW SLOW MOVING BUT EXPECTED TO GRADUALLY MOVE SOUTHWEST ABOUT 4 KNOTS. MAXIMUM 10-MINUTE AVERAGE WINDS ESTIMATED AT 85 KNOTS CLOSE TO THE CENTRE INCREASING TO 95 KNOTS IN THE NEXT 18 HOURS. EXPECT WINDS OVER 63 KNOTS WITHIN 35 MILES OF CENTRE. EXPECT WINDS OVER 47 KNOTS WITHIN 55 MILES OF CENTRE. EXPECT WINDS OVER 33 KNOTS WITHIN 180 MILES OF CENTRE IN THE SOUTHERN SEMI-CIRCLE AND WITHIN 120 MILES OF CENTRE ELSEWHERE.

ORGANISATION REMAINS GOOD. COLD CONVECTIVE TOPS PERSIST OVER LLCC. OUTFLOW GOOD TO EAST AND SOUTH BUT RESTRICTED ELSEWHERE. CYCLONE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE MOVING SOUTHWEST UNDER DEEP LAYER MEAN NORTHEAST STEERING FLOW. CIMSS SHOWS INCREASING SHEAR OVER SYSTEM. DVORAK ANALYSIS BASED ON RAGGED, CLOUD-FILLED EYE AND CENTRE EMBEDDED IN B

SHADE YIELDING A DT=5.0, MET=5.5 AND PT=5.0, THUS T5.0/5.5/D0.5/24HRS. CONSENSUS INTENSIFIES THE CYCLONE WHILST ON A SLOW POLEWARD TRACK

ON ITS PROJECTED TRACK, SEVERE TC GENE CENTRE IS EXPECTED TO PASS SOUTH OF ANEITYUM IN THE NEXT 12 HOURS. EXPECT DAMAGING GALE FORCE WINDS ABOUT AND SOUTH OF ERROMANGO. FOR TANNA AND ANEITYUM EXPECT DESTRUCTIVE STORM FORCE WINDS. WINDS INCREASING TO VERY DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE FORCE OVER ANEITYUM LATER TODAY.

RAIN BECOMING FREQUENT AND HEAVY WITH SQUALLY THUNDERSTORMS ABOUT AND SOUTH OF ERROMANGO. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS. VERY HIGH TO PHENOMENAL SEAS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS.

FORECAST:

12HRS VALID AT 011200 UTC NEAR 20.6S 170.2E MOV SW 4KT WITH 90KT CLOSE TO CENTRE.

24HRS VALID AT 020000 UTC NEAR 21.5S 170.0E MOV SSW 5KT WITH 95KT CLOSE TO CENTRE.

OUTLOOK:

36HRS VALID AT 021200 UTC NEAR 22.3S 169.9E MOV S 4KT WITH 75KT CLOSE TO CENTRE.

48HRS VALID AT 030000 UTC NEAR 23.2S 169.6E MOV S 5KT WITH 50KT CLOSE TO CENTRE.

THE NEXT SPECIAL ADVISORY FOR VANUATU ON SEVERE TC GENE WILL BE ISSUED AROUND 010830 UTC.

VANUATU MET PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF THIS BULLETIN.

From the Vanuatu Meteorological Service

Vanuatu Advisory

Vanuatu Meteorological Service

Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

Tropical cyclone Warning Number 13 for Tafea Province

This is Tropical cyclone warning number 13 issued by the Vanuatu Meteorological Services at 3:00PM, local time the 1st of February 2008 for the province of Tafea.

At 2:00pm local time, Tropical cyclone Gene was relocated at 20.0 degrees South and 170.8 degrees East. This location places Gene at the bottom right corner of Square letter J, Number 9 (J, 9) of the Vanuatu tropical cyclone tracking map. This is about 75KM southeast of Futuna and 90KM east northeast of Aneityum. TC Gene has slowly moved southwards at 04 KM/HR (02 Knots) in the past 12 hours.

The central pressure of the system is estimated at 940hPa. Winds close to the centre are estimated at 165 KM/HR (90 Knots). TC Gene is forecast to be at square Letter J, Number 10 (J,10) of the Tropical Cyclone Tracking Map within the next 6 hours, and at square letter I, number 11 (I, 11) within the next 12 to 18 hours.

Destructive hurricane force winds of 150KM/HR (80 knots) will continue to affect Futuna Island today and tonight, and will later extend to Aneityum within the next 12 hours.

Damaging Storm Force Winds of 110KM/HR (60 knots) will continue to affect Aniwa and Tanna Island.

Gale force winds of 75KM/HR (40 knots) will continue to affect Erromango. Winds over Erromango will slowly weaken as the system moves further southwest.

The sea is very rough in the affected areas with heavy swells. People, including sea going vessels are strongly advice not to go out to sea until the system moves out of the area. Heavy rainfall and flooding, including coastal flooding is expected over the southern islands.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Service will issue the next warning on TC Gene at 6pm. People over Tafea province are advised to listen to Radio Vanuatu for the latest information on this system.

Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre
Telephone: (678) 22932

NM - Nautical Miles
KM - Kilometres
M - Miles
KM/HR - Kilometre per hour
K - Knots
hPa - hectoPascal

APCEDI will continue to monitor the progress of this system.

Kevin Vang

APCEDI Coordinator

http://www.afap.org/apcedi/

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