The cyclone season in the South Pacific runs from November to April so it is now underway.
Generally the Cook Islands don’t suffer as much from them as countries to the west of us like Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga so 2005 was an anomaly when we had five cyclones within five weeks. The video shows some of the effects from then. (About 11Mb.)
The cyclones caused a lot of damage, particularly in Pukapuka, but there was fortunately no loss of life. The Cooks’ worst cyclone in recent years was Martin in November 1997 when 11 people died.
According to New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, there is an average risk of Southwest Pacific cyclones this season. Last season there were only four, five less than expected. This is a weak La Nina season which means there is a slightly lower than average risk of cyclones. (See the NIWA website.)
The Emergency Management team have leapt into action with a series of ads using footage of the 2005 cyclones (impressive) with school kids urging people not to go out to sightsee when a cyclone passes by (not). One thing you can guarantee is that in the aftermath of a cyclone folk will be out rubbernecking, probably long before the rain has ended and the wind dropped.
And it’s long past time to stop groups of children grinning and doing a thumbs-up when being filmed.
The man who mows the grass in our garden (I hesitate to call it a lawn) thinks there will be a cyclone this season. Tere down at the office thinks there won’t be one because the mango and breadfruit trees haven’t produced a huge amount. And NIWA thinks there’s an average risk.
It looks as though we’ve got all the options covered!