AFAP manages the Australian-Pacific Centre for Emergency and Disaster Information (APCEDI) to provide news on natural disaster events in the Asia-Pacific region and to help with rapid disaster response assessment. This was originally a communications network that was activated during a disaster to disseminate information to our Asia-Pacific NGO offices. Now APCEDI has a much wider application across the Asia-Pacific Region.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

APCEDI Alert 07P, Cyclone Heta #3, 2004

Dear Colleagues

Alert #3 / Sydney 7:00 EDT

Cyclone Heta has now commenced its slow southerly track. This will spare Tokelau of much further problems as gales and squalls ease tonight as the storm moves away. No significant damage has been reported from Tokelau, and it is unlikely there would have been much.

Samoa is the next country to come into focus. On its current track, Heta is set to pass 150-200 kms to the west of the westernmost main island of Savai’i as a Category 2-3 storm starting Sunday afternoon. Therefore the exact track of the storm over the next 12-48 hours is critical for Samoa’s two main islands of Savai’i and Upolu. The storm is currently moving slowly south although it is expected to increase forward speed. The forward speed will also be a critical factor as a slow moving storm could cause significant flash flooding on Savai’i and Upolu which have rugged mountainous relief. If the storm passes to the west, the north facing slopes and valleys would be most at risk although flash floods could occur anywhere if the storm has a slow forward motion. All people in Samoa should keep on alert and listen to official announcements which are already urging people to take precautionary measures. AFAP’s Samoa Office, OLSSI, will monitor the situation and bring regular reports if communications permit.

Tonga is next in line. On its current predicted course, the main groups of Tonga would be largely spared, but the northern outliers of Niuafo’ou, Tafahi and Niuatoputapu could receive a direct hit with the storm at Category 3. This could cause significant damage to these sparsely inhabited islands especially to crops and insecure structures. A shift in course could westward could effect the Vava’u Group. AFAP’s Tonga Office, Tonga Trust, will likewise monitor the situation.

Lastly on its current predicted course, Niue could receive a direct hit with the storm at Category 2. New Zealand officials are monitoring the storm closely and will take measures in the next few days should the threat increase to Niue.

More detailed information about the storm can be found on

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

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