Media briefed on weather reporting as we head into cyclone season
Based on weather conditions and past hurricane data, forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Tafuna are predicting “at least one named tropical cyclone system that will impact us” during the upcoming hurricane season for the South Pacific region — which runs from November this year to April 2014.
This was revealed by forecaster Hans Malala of the Weather Service Office during yesterday’s “Pre 2013-2014 Hurricane Season Coordination Workshop” for the local media hosted by the local Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with the National Weather Service.
Malala gave a power point presentation of data collection including weather patterns and past cyclone seasons to form their prediction of an average of one hurricane for the Samoa islands area, while nine have been predicted for the entire South Pacific region for the upcoming season.
If, as predicted, one tropical system impacts American Samoa, it will be named “Ian” said Malala.
Malala, along with weather service forecasters Carol Baqui and Elinor Lutu-McMoore, acknowledged this possibility, when asked by media representatives if there may be more than one strong weather condition, including a possible storm with hurricane force winds.
In the last hurricane season — from November 2012 to April 2013 — there was one major cyclone, named Evan, which formed around Dec. 9 of last year. Samoa suffered the brunt of Evan around Dec. 22 and the storm later headed to Fiji and Tonga.
Cyclone Evan killed five in Samoa and 11 are still considered missing, with estimated damage in the millions of dollars.
Other past hurricane data released during the workshop included information from the 1992-1993 hurricane season, where ten storms were predicted for the region and three for the Samoa islands. The three which hit during that cyclone season were Lin, Nina and Mick.
The last devastating cyclone for American Samoa was Heta in 2004, causing widespread damage on Tutuila, while Manu’a was spared.
At the opening of the workshop, Homeland Security director Utuali’i Iuniasolua Savusa told media representatives that “it's important for us” to put together this special event before heading into the hurricane season.
He said it's very important that information disseminated by the media is accurate during disasters, to ensure that there is no confusion or misinformation received by the public. He also said that the workshop presents an opportunity to share information and products as compared to previous years.
One of the messages emphasized by Utuali’i, as well as by Baqui is that a close working relationship between the media and DHS/TEMCO and NWS is of the utmost importance during disasters.
More than a dozen media representatives were present during the workshop and TEMCO manager Vini Atofau Jr., says he was pleased to see a good turn out this year compared to last year.
“It is important that we do have these meetings prior to the hurricane season,” he said, adding that the key component in hurricane preparedness is the media, which gets the information out to the community, whether its an active season or not.
Baqui added, that “we rely heavily on the information that you distribute and make mention of over the air. To know that you are presenting the information as accurately as possible — that will help us on our end.”
More information from the workshop in later editions of Samoa News.
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