Why we must pay attention to the cyclone warning

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 February 2019, 12:00AM

It’s a rarity on these shores that we see more rain than the sun. 

Which is precisely what has been happening for the past few weeks.

Indeed, it’s beginning to feel a bit odd because for the past four weeks, we’ve hardly had days where it’s been sunny throughout. 

While the heat and humidity have become a real menace, the resulting downpours have been keeping everyone on their toes. 

Which is understandable. We are after all still in the wet season, which is also known as the cyclone season. It explains why we get more nervous in times like these. 

It’s the idea that any period of constant bad weather – and we’ve been experiencing a lot of it lately – could easily be accompanied by a cyclone.

This is why we need to pay careful attention to the warning on the front page of the newspaper you are reading under the title “Meteorological Office warns of tropical cyclone threat.” 

As of today, there is a pretty good chance that the bad weather we’ve been experiencing lately could turn into a cyclone. 

 “Tropical depression (TD11F) was located at about 480 km to the west of Asau or 580 km northwest of Apia at 2:00pm today (yesterday). The potential for this system to develop into a tropical cyclone in the next 24-36 hours is high,” the Met office advised.

“TD11F continues to track southward to the west of Samoa. At this stage, an active convergence zone which is linked to TD11F affects the group with associated heavy rain and strong Northerly winds.

 “Flooding and landslides possible for low-lying and vulnerable areas. Increasing high swells and rough seas for mariners, and dangerous surf possible for coastal locations.”

Well the warning is quite precise. And we must all take it seriously.

Today, the message for everyone is to think safety first. 

To be doubly sure, no one wants a cyclone. We live in a country where so many of us have had to live through cyclones and endure the pain it brings. 

Cyclones don’t care about people and how they cope with the damage they inflict. They strike indiscriminately, they kill innocent people and cause millions of tala in terms of damages. In Samoa, there is another element we’ve seen during the past years, this is the issue of flooding.

Who can forget Cyclone Evan when flooding killed more people than the actual cyclone? In fact, a breakdown of the cost of that particular disaster would clearly identify that the most damage – costly damage too – was caused by flooding. 

The worry is that for the past few weeks, the rain has been relentless. While we haven’t seen much flooding yet, we get the feeling that we are not far off as the earth’s thirst has been well and truly quenched. That water will need to go somewhere. For families living next to rivers and streams, the message today is to be prepared and head for safety.

Which is pretty much the message for all of us living in Samoa today.

The forecast warns that we should expect more heavy rain, strong and gusty winds, poor visibility, flooding and landslides at vulnerable areas. 

Out there on Samoa’s seas, swells are expected to rise and it will only get rougher. That means fishermen and fishing boat owners should be alert and avoid any unnecessary risk.

 Safety of course is a lot more than that. Families should also be careful with drinking water, making sure that it is boiled, and that children are supervised so that they remain indoors, far, far away from streams and rivers.

On top of that, you might want to start working on getting those emergency supplies. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

So stay safe Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 February 2019, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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