High number of tropical cyclones forecasted for the Pacific

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Seven to eleven tropical cyclones have been forecasted for the Southwest Pacific region, and three to four for the Northwest Pacific. This is according to the ‘Regional Statement on the Climate of 2017/18 and Climate and Tropical Cyclone Outlook for the Pacific Islands’ that was officially released two weeks ago as an outcome of the Fourth Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF-4) held from 10-12 October 2018, in Nadi, Fiji.

The PICOF Technical Meetings, organised annually by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), bring together Pacific National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) to ensure consistency in the access and interpretation of climate information for all our Pacific island countries. The regional statement is one of the main outcomes of the PICOF, and is used to inform the National Climate and Tropical Cyclone Outlooks for all the Pacific island countries.

Tropical cyclones have a significant impact in the tropical Pacific. In the Southwest Pacific, Vanuatu and New Caledonia typically experience the greatest activity, with an average of two or three named cyclones passing close to land each year.

The Regional Climate and Tropical Cyclone Outlook for the Pacific Islands has forecasted an increase of warm conditions in the Central Pacific with seven to eleven tropical cyclones for the region during the November 2018 to April 2019 tropical cyclone season. The warm conditions caused by the warming of the ocean and heat exposure, may lead to coral bleaching and loss of marine life.

In North Pacific, three to four tropical cyclones of tropical storm intensity or higher, are predicted to pass nearby Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Yap or Palau by the end of this year. The recent category five tropical cyclone Yutu that formed in the region, making landfall in CNMI.

Seven to eleven tropical cyclones are predicted for the Southwest Pacific, following the early tropical cyclone Liua that formed in September. Tropical cyclone activity is expected to be lower than normal around the northern and eastern Coral Sea margin, and elevated east of the International Date Line.

“This season we are expecting a high number of cyclones and typhoons for the Pacific region, and for our islands, early warning and preparation is extremely important and highlights the key role our Pacific Met Services play,” said Ms Tagaloa Cooper-Halo, Director of Climate Change Resilience Programme at SPREP.

“They are one of the first ports of call when it comes to disaster preparation, which is why the PICOF Technical Meetings are a key event that provides an invaluable opportunity for all Pacific Met Services to come together and share experiences, lessons learned, and solutions for the way forward. It is for this important collaboration that SPREP and its partners continue to host and support PICOF every year.”

Preparation for the possible occurrence of tropical cyclones for the Pacific region (North and South) during this time is strongly encouraged, and information regarding developing lows, cyclones or activity will be made available to the public through their NMHS. You can find your NMHS on social media, or listen out to their radio and TV broadcasts for information.

Should conditions change over the coming months, the tropical cyclone outlook will be updated. All communities are encouraged to stay vigilant, and adhere to the official advice and information of their NMHS.

For more information or to access the ‘Regional Statement on the Climate of 2017/18 and Climate and Tropical Cyclone Outlook for the Pacific Islands’, click here.

For more information about the PICOF please check our website or email