Tropical Cyclone “Gita” forms, very heavy rain falling on Samoa

Tropical Cyclone “Gita” formed Friday, February 9, 2018 near Samoa in South Pacific Ocean as the second named storm of the 2017/18 South Pacific Ocean cyclone season. The system is currently dumping very heavy rain on Samoa and producing strong winds. Residents of Samoa living in low-lying areas, riverbanks and flood-prone areas have been advised to prepare to move if the bad weather persists.

Gita is moving east while intensifying and is expected to pass south of Samoa and American Samoa, reach Category 1 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale over the next 24 hours, pass east of Niue, turn westward within 48 hours and then pass over or near Tonga.

At 04:00 UTC on February 9, the center of Tropical Cyclone “Gita” was located about 520 km (323 miles) west of Pago Pago, American Samoa. Its 10-minute sustained winds were 65 km/h (40 mph) at the time, while 1-minute sustained winds were at 75 km/h (45 mph) with gusts up to 95 km/h (60 mph). The minimum barometric pressure was at 992 hPa and the system was moving eastwards at 28 km/h (17 mph).

By 09:00 UTC, Gita was 203 km (126 miles) WSW of Avata, Samoa and its 1-minute sustained winds were still 75 km/h (45 mph), with gusts of up to 95 km/h (60 mph). 

Tropical Cyclone “Gita” will track southeastward over the next 24 hours and rapidly intensify to 130 km/h (80 mph), JTWC said 09:00 UTC today. The system will then turn southward over the next 36 hours. After that, Gita will turn southwestward and then westward with an intensity of 139 km/h (86 mph).

At this time the focus in on Samoa and the Samoa Meteorology Office is urging residents to stay alert as heavy rainfall alert and wind advisories are in effect for the entire Samoa group.

Residents living in low-lying areas, riverbanks and flood-prone areas are advised to prepare to move if the bad weather persists.

A warning about potential landslides has been issued to residents living on the foot of mountains and hills as well as an advisory for small crafts and fishing boats.

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone “Gita” at 11:52 UTC on February 9, 2018. Credit: UW-CIMSS

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