Pacific Disaster Center Fostering Disaster Resilient Communities  


News & Media

South Pacific Islands Brace for Massive Tropical Cyclone Pam

March 12, 2015

PDC Global Hazards Atlas illustrates Tropical Cyclone Pam on Thursday, March 12 (Hawaii Time), tracking down the South Pacific Ocean, displaying JTWC forecast positions, segments, TAOS estimated wind impacts, and tropical cyclone wind radii. Tropical Cyclone Nathan is also visualized to the left in the Coral Sea. 

In the Southwest Pacific Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Pam has been gradually intensifying, and is expected to strengthen further, reaching peak intensity on Saturday, March 14 (local time), into a category five hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, as it barrels past Vanuatu towards northern New Zealand, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). TC Pam is producing dangerous seas, with reported maximum wave heights reaching 44 feet.

As of Friday, March 13, (local time), the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VGMD) issued a tropical cyclone warning for Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, Shefa, and Tafea Provinces. Forecasters expect destructive storm force winds to impact Penama and Malampa, and the capital (and area of most concentrated population), Port Vila, in Shefa Province, which will strengthen to very destructive hurricane force winds in 6 to 12 hours. The provinces of Torba, Sanma, and Tafea will experience damaging gale force winds, with winds over Tafea Province increasing further in the next 12 to 24 hours, according to the VGMD. Additionally, all provinces will experience rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells, heavy to torrential rainfall and flooding, including flash flooding (anticipated in low-lying areas, and areas near river banks), landslides, and coastal flooding.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has the provinces of Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa on Red Alert, while a Yellow Alert is in effect for the provinces of Shefa and Tafea. The Government of Vanuatu continues to advise residents in these provinces to listen to all radio broadcasts for the latest information on TC Pam.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands continued a tropical cyclone warning for Temotu province, while watches remain in effect for the remaining provinces. The Fiji Meteorological Service weather bulletin includes continuing strong wind warnings, as well as a heavy rain warning for the island nation. New Zealand’s Meteorological Service has issued a severe weather watch for Northland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty Rotorua, Gisborne, and Hawkes Bay, where residents can expect severe gales and/or heavy rain.

For more information on Tropical Cyclone Pam:
• Read an article about TC Pam's approach towards the South Pacific Islands,
• View the most recent forecast by JTWC,
• Visit the Vanuatu Meteorological Services website,
• Visit the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service Division website, and
• Visit the Fiji Meteorological Service website, and
• Visit the website of the Meteorological Service in New Zealand. 

More from Pacific Disaster Center

To keep yourself up-to-the-minute about hazards and disasters:

For the latest Weather and Disaster News, use the PDC Weather Wall.

While you are thinking of hazards, think of preparedness. PDC provides disaster preparedness information, including printable instructions for assembling a Disaster Supply Kit and rehearsing a Family Disaster Plan.

For more information on DisasterAWARETM products:

  • For details, see the Training Guide for Web-accessible Disaster Alert,
  • Read and understand more about custom versions, such as DMRS and VinAWARE,
  • Watch the ASEAN DMRS video on YouTube.

About PDC:

Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) envisions a safer, more secure world—where populations live in more disaster-resilient communities informed by science and technology, and equipped with sound decision support tools. To help make that vision a reality, PDC is dedicated to supporting evidence-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts by providing actionable information and applications to the public and disaster managers worldwide. PDC, a program managed by the University of Hawaii, was established by the U.S. government in 1996.