Amos the Cyclone was a mysterious storm. It had everything.
Much like its Old Testament namesake, the storm was apocalyptic in part. It also had elements of Biblical proportions and it was prophetic in its mysteriousness.
These elements formed the oracles of Amos, true or not true, and will be retold for a long time to come.
Come Saturday night and the Magik FM studio was my home for the night, there were calls from all over the country on the happenings everywhere. One of the most interesting calls came from Tom Rudnik in Poutasi. He reported seeing the mountain range facing Poutasi turning bright red with fire. Talk about Apocalyptic.
That was an hour before dusk and the rain was somewhat coming. I could not explain to Tom what was happening. He came up with a proposition that moisture in the air around the ranges was being sucked up into the atmosphere creating the visage of a burning mountain.
Whatever the scientific explanation for that is, I was reminded of the verse in the Book of Amos – the Prophet - about God’s promise to set fire to the walls of fortresses, amid violent winds on a stormy day (1:14). I also had images of Elijah’s Chariot of fire flying over and above Samoa. Perhaps Tom was right in his explanation of what he saw. The important thing is, he saw something quite unusual, in relation to the looming cyclone.
That set the tone for the night. Two hours later Tom rang again to report that the temperature in Poutasi had dropped significantly. It sent chills down my spine. The big question of what exactly we were facing with Amos the Cyclone was beginning to assume a mystery of its own.
My concerns were heightened with the early realisation that Amos the Cyclone, was powerless. There was no wind. Not in the early part of the storm anyway. It was not until we were within 50kms of the core of Amos that category 2 winds of 100kms per hour were felt, in big bursts.
The gusts were certainly categorically those of a cyclone. Fallen branches the next morning were a tacit reminder of its mission.
Usually, in the peripheral area of such systems, 40-70km winds can be felt and experienced well before the main event arrives. That was not the case here.
Once the big rain of the centre was done in two to three hours, then the wind also disappeared. That was all the measure of this storm. The worst happened all at once, in blocks of two to three hours, from Asau to Aleipata. Then it was done.
The eerie sudden calm left everyone looking heavenward for more signs of disaster that did not eventuate. Amos the Cyclone was mysterious in that regard. It left you guessing whether we had missed, or not, the core message of Amos. I am still decrypting the code. I am puzzled by its absence.
The Biblical proportions of Amos for me had a lot to do with the nature of its arrival. The coming of the storm was foretold well in advance. Well, only a few days. The brewing and the birth bangs were a few days more. Slow in coming but the prophecy shall be fulfilled.
The anticipation of the fulfilment was all Biblical. Amos the Cyclone will test us all. It was going to determine whether we were all ready for judgment day. Yes! We were ready for whatever Amos had to bring. Except it did not come in the way expected.
Another biblical theme, such an Old Testament thing. Just yet it came, but not in the way expected. That was not expected. A prophecy fulfilled in its non-fulfilment. Even the sky watchers got it awfully wrong. The 50 or so models available to our Met Office in Apia all had Amos to take a south eastern dive west of Asau.
All the models were proven scientific tools, tool of the trade and state of the art technology. They surely had the measure of Amos. Not so. Amos had a will of its own. No one was going to prepare its way or tell it where to go.
Just then I could see Amos the Old Testament prophet pointing at me, mocking me at the top of his voice, saying something about longing for the Day of the Lord. He seemed to say, “Do you think you can handle the day of the Lord? It is darkness and not light. Do not long for it. Woe to you!” (Amos 5:8)
And while still looking to break the code, and avoiding the gaze of the prophet while at the same time trying to read the signs, and interpret the unfolding events of a cyclone that promised much and delivered none, Amos was gone. Out of sight and already flying off to the east.
It was not just me that was miffed. Others found humour to express their search for the meaning of Amos with posts of “We will rebuild” messages on Social Media with pictures of fallen pot plants, and a fallen plastic chair.
Others went further and photo shopped images of UFOs and Flying Saucers in the storm over Samoa. The humour generated at least stifled the mystery, but only a little.
The sigh of relief from the people however could be heard, and certainly read all over social media. I had missed it, it was the prayer of the people that caused Amos the Cyclone to reconsider its own judgment on Samoa. We were spared, and not by accident. It was the prayer of the people of the land.
Such was the way Amos the Cyclone was framed, in the backdrop of its Old Testament counterpart. In the end Amos the Cyclone, its coming and its going remains in a well veiled shroud of mystery about how the non-fulfilment was the fulfilment.
And the Cyclone that was and was not. These are strange things, and the only way to understand it all is to be immersed in the mystery itself.