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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Unpredictable Cyclone Systems Lurking In Pacific
Cyclone Garry headed towards Cook Islands, French Polynesia

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 23, 2013) – Samoa has escaped a threat from cyclone Garry, but other potential cyclonic systems are brewing for the Pacific region.

Cyclone Garry has been downgraded as it moves toward French Polynesia and the Cook Islands.

But forecasters say it may intensify again - towards category four - as it reaches the Cooks in about 24 hours.

Overnight Garry became a category one cyclone - lowered from category two. But observers warn it is unpredictable.

Samoa was on high alert, with the storm hitting a month after cyclone Evan ravaged the country and severely damaged the capital, Apia. High winds have also been battering American Samoa.

Earlier, Mulipola Titimaea, from Samoa's National Disaster Management Office, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the system was unpredictable.

Busy season

Mr. Titimaea said it was similar to last month's devastating cyclone Evan "in character and formation, so we've learnt from that it's unpredictable."

The forecaster said: "If you compare it with (tropical cyclone) Evan… Evan was predicted to move south-west, but it moved north-east."

Garry was a very small system. "Some forecasters and scientists call them 'black swan' because it's hard to pick up the intensity from the radar centre."

Mr. Titimaea said there was another depression to the east but it is very weak. "There's also an interesting one to the west (by Vanuatu and Solomon Islands) which could be forming again where the depression of Garry formed.

"It's a very busy season for us Pacific forecasters."

Two hundred school students in Fiji will take classes in temporary shelters for at least a month after damage caused by cyclone Evan.

Schools reopened this week for the first time since cyclone Evan hit in December, causing an estimated US$43 million in damages.

Manasa Tagicakibau, director of Fiji's National Disaster Management Office, says the rebuilding of school buildings damaged by Evan continues, so temporary shelters have been erected.

"We have had 14 schools that were badly damaged, and these were the schools that we've erected temporary shelters for," the director said.

"Apart from those 134 schools, other schools were badly damaged which the school children can still use the buildings while repair work carries on."

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