Gale Watch issued for all American Samoa islands
The National Weather Service in Pago Pago issued around 2:45p.m. Thursday a “Gale Watch” for the islands of Tutuila, Aunu’u and Manu’a including its costal waters, as Tropical Cyclone Ian was slowly moving south-southeast and “away” from the territory.
Forecast predicted gale force winds for Thursday night, heading into Friday morning.
The weather bulletin says that at 12 noon, the cyclone was located about 346 nautical miles southwest of Pago Pago or 400 nautical miles southwest of Manu’a. Additionally, the cyclone was moving slowly at about 6 mph with sustained winds at 104 mph, with higher gusts.
The weather bulletin also states that an active monsoonal trough associated with the cyclone is expected to generate gale force winds across the Samoan islands and coastal waters tonight and into Friday morning - prompting the Gale Watch, which could possibly be upgraded to a Gale Wind Warning.
Hans Malala, meteorologist with the Weather Office, told Samoa News that while the cyclone is moving away from the territory towards Tonga, the monsoonal trough associated with the cyclone was causing very strong winds.
He said the weather service was forecasting winds to reach at least 40 mph or more over night and they will continue to monitor the current weather situation.
With the Gale Watch, local authorities ask the community to review their disaster plans and be ready to act if a Gale Warning is issued. Residents are also reminded to listen to local radio stations for the latest information.
The Fiji Cyclone Center in Nadi, forecast that the cyclone would be category 4 by Thursday night. A hurricane warning was already in effect for the Vava’u Group in Tonga, while a storm warning for the Ha’apai Group was already in effect.
Some members of the local community say that they are keeping in contact via phone with families in Vava'u and Ha'apai to see how they are doing. Samoa News also received reports of “very strong winds” at the airport area and along mountainsides.