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Updates: Tropical Cyclone Gita

 Satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Gita at 1 a.m., Feb. 10, 2018 local time. [image from Joint Typhoon Warning Center]

OVERNIGHT UPDATE — Tropical storm Gita began to move away from Tutuila late yesterday afternoon while a tropical storm warning remains in effect for all of American Samoa. The National Weather Service warned that heavy rainfall and runoffs may cause small streams to overflow resulting in flooding of low lying areas and roadways. The public is advised to please  take extra caution when driving through flooded roads. 

Tropical storm force winds were still expected to continue cross American Samoa through Friday night.

While the center of Gita began to track away from Tutuila Friday afternoon, an earlier scatterometer pass over the storm showed a swath of tropical storm force winds along the northern periphery that tracked over the island over night.

Strong winds and gusts will continue to cause downed trees and damage to structures today (Saturday).  Widespread ppower outaes have been reported across the island.

From Hawaiian Airlines: Passengers who were ticketed for travel on HA flights to/from Pago Pago on Feb. 9, 2018, will be permitted one-time reservation change with waiver of change fee provided: ticket was issued on/before Feb. 9, 2018; afftected flight (s) is/are originally scheduled for travel Feb. 9, 2018; chage must be rebooked and ticketed to new flights onbefore Feb. 16, 2018.

10:30 a.m. UPDATE — American Samoa Department of Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele said the Port of Pago Pago and the Pago Pago International Airport are both closed due to tropical storm Gita. 

— Pago Pago International Airport is close for 24-hours and reopen tomorrow. 

— Hawaiian Airlines local office says tonight' flight from Honolulu, is delayed for 24-hours.

- due to power outage, National Weather Service in Pago Pago is taken over by weather office in Honolulu.

- ASG offices are closed

- STarKist Samoa second shift and evening shift for today is canceled.

- one shelter is now open - Tafuna Elementary School. Other shelters will be open as the need arises

- LBJ hospital and Health Department clinics are all open.

- anyone, in areas mostly affected by flooding such as Fagaima,  in need to assistance to get to LBJ for their appointment call EOC 699-3800

- governor has called on the public to stay off the road giving first responders a chance to reach those in need of help and also to clear debris on the road.  First responders was trying to get to some areas, but dangerous weather conditions are delaying their work.

- as a precautionary measure, ASPA has turn off power for Tutuila until the storm passes.

Update 5:30 a.m. Tropical Storm Gita
With strong winds reported from various areas of Tutuila as well as power outage at some villages, the National Weather Service in Tafuna says Tropical Storm Gita continues to move slowly towards American Samoa’s main island.

As of 5:35a.m. today, the storm was about 80 miles west of Tutuila with maximum sustained winds of 40-50 mph, says Weather Service meteorologist Hans Malala in a phone interview.
Based on its current path, the storm is not “expected to make landfall” on Tutuila as it’s forecasted to pass southeast later this afternoon, but strong winds from the storm are going to be a major factor for residents, he said.

However, forecasters cautioned that the path of the storm could change.

Gusts of up to 80 mph are expected as the storm passes Tutuila, and should be reduced later this evening, according to forecasters, who continued to closely monitor Gita with already strong winds impacting the island this morning causing power outage at some villages. There are also fallen trees reported from several villages and residents are being urged to stay safe.
Forecasters say Gita is expected to bring heavy showers and thunderstorms across the territory today. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches are likely over most of the area with locally higher amounts.

All islands of American Samoa are currently under a storm watch

1 a.m., Feb. 9, 2018

American Samoa is now under a “storm warning”, as Tropical Storm Gita heads towards the main island of Tutuila.

And because of the pending storm, the Education Department announced late yesterday afternoon that all public schools would again be closed today. However, all teachers are to report to their respective schools and secure your classroom. All other DOE personnel are to report to their respective divisions.

Forecasters at Fiji’s Met Service named the storm overnight after it was upgraded from a tropical depression, which formed near Fiji early this week.

In the latest local hurricane statement issued around 1:35a.m. today, Friday, the National Weather Service in Tafuna says the Tropical Storm Gita was over the island of Savai’i in neighboring Samoa and slowly heading towards Tutuila in American Samoa.

The weather office has put all American Samoa islands under a storm warning as the center of Tropical Storm Gita was located about 190 miles west of Tutuila and about 275 west of Manu’a.

As of 12a.m. today, Friday, the storm was slowly moving east-southeast with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph.

According to the weather office, damaging tropical storm winds are expected to move across American Samoa early this morning. Forecasters remind residents that only a small change in the storm’s track could result in higher winds.

While it has been calm in the territory most of last night, strong winds started early this morning. Late yesterday afternoon to early evening hours, many residents heeded advise from local authorities and started preparations for the coming storm.

A handful of stores were packed with customers buying water and food items.

During the tropical cyclone media workshop late last year, hosted by the Weather Office and the local Department of Homeland Security, one of the issue stressed by local authorities is for the public to listen to local broadcasters for the latest information, not those out of Samoa, because of the different in terminology used by American Samoa and Samoa in issuing their weather statements.

The public is advised to take necessary precautions when driving due to hazardous driving conditions and flooded roadways.

In a statement reiterating the storm watch, the local Department of Homeland Security also outlined preparedness for local residents.

Report any weather related incident to the Police at 911/633-1111 or to the EOC at 699-3800/6990411.

Samoa News will update this story online as new information comes in from local authorities.