Updated: 2/24/2019 8:32:47 AM
All cyclone warnings for Vanuatu were cancelled on Monday evening as Cyclone Oma finally moved away from the country after five days. Reports of widespread damage starting to emerge from Vanuatu's northern provinces, and from the south of Solomon Islands. The Red Cross said it understood as many as 30 houses were destroyed and there had been extensive damage to crops. A Red Cross spokesperson, Olivia Finau, said this meant the northern islands were battered by a week of constant torrential rain, strong winds, and raging seas. "For the time being there's not assessment team yet because of the rough seas, and they cannot yet deploy by boat or by plane," said Ms Finau.
Cyclone Oma also caused damage in Solomon Islands, with officials there concerned for food security and health in some southern provinces. The cyclone started near Solomon Islands two weeks ago, and its heavy rains and rough seas have fanned up from Vanuatu's north in the past week. The director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, said there were no casualties. He added that much of the damage was being reported in the Makira, Malaita and Temotu provinces with minor damage on Guadalcanal. "It has been quite bad. The communities have not even recovered from the first weather event in December/January," Mr Yates said.
Updated: 2/24/2019 2:17:03 AM
Nearly all southeast Queensland beaches remain closed — all on the Gold Coast and most on the Sunshine Coast as dangerous conditions spark a severe weather warning for the area. High tides and dangerous surf have sparked rescues of 27 people, including 13 surfers who attempted to battle giant sets reaching up to 10m.
A severe weather warning remains in place from Fraser Island to the New South Wales border for dangerous surf caused by the now sub-tropical low. Surf Life Saving's Jeremy Sturges said it was frustrating that the warnings were ignored. "We've had eight incidents today on the Gold Coast alone ranging from surfers in distress, jet skiers in distress, windsurfers, and swimmers as well," he said. "We can only advise people to stay out of the water and away from the water's edge but you're going to get people who think they can cope with the conditions and that's where they're getting unstuck. "Winds are making the seas heavier, which is creating a much more dangerous ocean for us." One person had to be treated for head injuries after being swept onto rocks at Coolangatta. Sunshine Coast duty officer Sebastien De Paula said lifesavers had been kept busy overnight too.
Updated: 2/21/2019 10:14:09 AM
Bruce Gunn, Queensland State Manager, said the effects of Oma are already being felt along the Queensland coast with warnings in place for higher than normal tides and dangerous surf conditions developing south of Seventeen Seventy causing coastal erosion for exposed beaches.
"Surf and swell conditions will be hazardous for coastal activities such as rock fishing, boating, and swimming and many beaches are already closed for public safety," Gunn said.
Seas and swell are also expected to increase well ahead of the approach of the cyclone, and these conditions present a danger for even the most experienced swimmers and surfers, the Bureau warns. It's safest to stay out of the water.
Updated: 2/15/2019 7:22:45 AM
National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) spokesperson Presley Tari said the office was waiting for Oma to clear the northern provinces before going out to assess the damage. The meteorology service has described sea swells in the area as phenomenal and is urging people not to go to sea. Mr. Tari said he had been received reports of damage from the NDMO team based at Luganville. "They have received calls from the west of Santo saying they have a huge amount of wind blowing and very rough sea and big rain. "There have been several damages but after the cyclone, we'll have our team to do the assessment and then we can have proper information for this." Reports from Torba and Sanma indicated some homes and gardens had been destroyed, Mr. Tari said A river in Sanma had reportedly burst its banks and damaged roads as well as washing away taro gardens, meaning a food shortage was likely, he said. Red Cross volunteers in Sanma province last night were removing fallen trees and checking on families at evacuation centers, according to the agency's Hanna Butler.
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Tropical Cyclone Warning No.9 was issued for Vanuatu provinces of Torba, Sanma and Malampa at 12:30 UTC (23:30 VUT), February 13, 2019 due to Tropical Cyclone Oma.
Red alert is in effect for all three provinces and yellow for Penama and Shefa. Oma is the fourth named storm of the 2018/19 South Pacific tropical cyclone season.
Oma is moving west at 34 km/h with estimated central pressure of 984 hPa and maximum sustained winds near the center of 95 km/h.
Gale force winds of 75 km/h are affecting Torba, Sanma and Malampa provinces. Damaging gale force winds of 75 km/h with gusts up to 100 km/h will continue affecting Torba and Sanma over the next 12 to 24 hours, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) warns.
Storm force winds of 95 km/h gusting up to 130 km/h are also expected to affect the abovementioned provinces.
Heavy rainfalls and flash flooding over low lying areas and areas close to the river banks, including coastal flooding will continue to affect the three provinces overnight.
Seas will be very rough to phenomenal with heavy and phenomenal swells expected. People, including sea going vessels are strongly advised not to go out to sea until the system has moved out of the area.
The Marine strong wind warning and High seas warning are current for northern and central coastal and open waters.
The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) advices that red alert is maintained for Torba, Sanma and Malampa, and yellow alert for Penama and Shefa provinces.
Cyclone Oma Facts
Affected Area: 1000 km.
Alert Level: Green