The Chairman of the Disaster Advisory Committee (D.A.C), Suluimalo Amataga Penaia, has set the record straight in relation to claims that Cyclone Amos was a “phantom storm”.
The claim was made by Event Organiser, Seti Afoa, on social media, who claimed that the members of the public were misled by the local weather office.
“Let me remind everyone that the Met Office is the only official source for all the weather forecasts in Samoa,” Suluimalo said.
“Our only concern is that the public are confused because with all of these different forecasts, people will ask which weather bulletin is the correct one.”
Suluimalo, who is also the C.E.O of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which the Met Office is under, made the comments in response to Mr. Afoa’s social media post.
“I have to say, Cyclone Amos has turned out to be a Phantom Storm, in part created by the misinformation and wrong forecasts given out in official weather bulletins over the last 24 hrs,” Mr. Afoa wrote on Sunday.
“The last bulletin six hours ago, still had the cyclone to hit Samoa this afternoon, this despite satellite mapping showing the system already moving away from Savaii and then Upolu. The insistence on six to 18hrs timeframe for Cyclone Amos was incorrect, right from the start.
“Our met office in Apia was following the wrong model predictions out of the U.S.
“For us in studio, I went with the usual satellite source that I have always used and has never let me down. It didn't in this Cyclone - I could tell exactly when rain was falling, include wind factor and so on.
“Cyclone Amos has gone away. It left us last night (Saturday night) at 1am.”
Suluimalo said Mr. Afoa’s claims are unfounded and irresponsible.
“We are not using any models from the U.S,” he said. “We have about 50 different models that we use in the MET Office so that we get the best fit for our work.
“Another thing that I would also like to stress is that there is no model in this world that is 100 percent correct.
“All of these things have factors and parameters and they are all different.”
Suluimalo said the satellite source Mr. Afoa was using is not a model but an “exact image” and they are “two different things.”
“What Mr. Afoa doesn’t know is that the satellite image is not a model, it is an exact image and that is what is happening,” he said.
“A model can predict where the cyclone will be at in the next couple of hours but the satellite image can only say what is happening now. It cannot predict where the cyclone will be in the next six hours.
“[And] we cannot wait until the cyclone is in actual then we issue warnings.
“What the MET Office is doing is to issue the warnings first before the cyclone hits and then estimate where it will be in the next couple of hours. “So that is why we want to set this straight because the people don’t know who to listen to and which prediction is the correct one. “Another thing that Seti said was that the cyclone left us at 1am. This is not true.
“At 1 o’clock the cyclone left some parts of Samoa but didn’t leave Samoa completely.
“It doesn’t mean that the cyclone has left Apia then. We cannot say that it has left Samoa when the cyclone has only left Apia.
“These things need to be clarified so that the people would know and understand it, only when the cyclone has left the boundaries of Samoa then we can say that it has left Samoa.”
Another issue that the M.N.R.E C.E.O clarified was that the Met Office never issued any warnings about Cyclone Amos becoming a category 3 or 4.
“As you all know, before Cyclone Amos reached Samoa it was already category 3, and we had no warning during our bulletin forecast that said the cyclone was a category 3,” said Suluimalo.
“Even though in terms of protocols the cyclone was a category 3 but our warnings were still a category 2 because of our observations.”
He added: “There were other people that said on TVNZ news that Cyclone Amos was a category 4 and Samoa will be vulnerable but we didn’t listen to their words because we were following what our local observations found and our models that we use in our forecast.”
Asked for a comment yesterday, Mr. Afoa said he did not intend to offend anyone. However, he stands by his comments.
His response will be published in tomorrow's Samoa Observer.