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Flooding and heavy rain as Samoa enters Tropical Cyclone season

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 27 OCTOVER 2022: As Samoa enters the Tropical Cyclone season, authorities have alerted the country of several fords and bridges in Upolu and Savaii that were unsafe to cross while families in vulnerable areas were encouraged to move to safer locations.

Earlier this morning, Magiagi and Lelata families residing near the Vaisigano River were seen packing into their vehicles and moving to higher and safer grounds.

Land Transport Authority kept the country informed of fords and bridges that were unsafe for foot and low vehicles crossing such as Fagalii and Lepa fords and the Uafato bridge.

In Savaii, flooding blocked the busy morning traffic crossing the Sapapalii ford for some time.

The Tropical Cyclone season extends from November to April with peak activity normally experienced from January to March.

Sapapalii flood crossing
Sapapalii flood crossing

A motorist attempts to cross the flooded Sapapalii ford this morning as the others waited on both sides for the waters to recede.

The Samoa Meteorology Division advised that a Tropical Cyclone is likely to form in or pass through the 400km radius of Samoa this tropical cyclone season.

“The current El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) status, technically is at La Nina, with climate models suggesting this status to remain through to early 2023,” Samoa Meteorology states.

“Although ocean observations in mid-2022 declined slightly to La Nina Alert levels, trade winds intensity increased there on after, resulting in an establishment of a La Nina in September 2022.”

The climate outlook for November 2022 to April 2023 states that the upcoming season will likely see a rare occurrence of what is known as a three-peat La Nina event, where the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) status will be within La Nina thresholds for the third consecutive Tropical Cyclone season since the 2020-2021 TC season.

Climate models generally agree that this status is likely to remain through most of the TC season, and can have significant impact on the climate of Samoa.

Taking into consideration the current outlook status of ENSO, rainfall for the upcoming season is anticipated to be Normal to Above Normal conditions.

For Samoa, a La Nina event normally provides more rainfall than usual and reduced number of tropical cyclones owing to the south west displacement of the so-called birthplace of tropical cyclones known as the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ).

These events can cause loss of life and a great deal of damage to property according to the Samoa Meteorology Division.

“SMD will continue to closely monitor changes in the climate system and advise the public accordingly. Members of the public are urged to remain vigilant, alert and prepared throughout the 2022-2023 TC season and take heed of TC alerts, warnings and advisories issued.”