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.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

APCEDI Alert 07P, Cyclone Heta #7, 2004

Dear Colleagues

Alert #7 / 06 January 2004, Sydney 09:00 EDT

Super Cyclone Heta peaked as a Category 5 Super Cyclone, but has now begun to weaken slightly and pick up forward speed as it moves southeastward. It is is still a strong and dangerous Category 4 storm. The eyewall is about 150 kms southeast of Niuatoputapu, 200 kms northeast of the Vava’u Group and 210 kms northwest of Niue.

The following will be a country by country assessment.

Tonga: Satellite images from overnight show that Heta’s eyewall passed 50 kms east of islands of Tafahi and Niuatoputapu. During this time it was a Category 5 Super Cyclone. Both islands were in the centre core of the storm for about 8 hours. Although they would not have sustained the very highest eyewall winds from the storm, locally to possibly widespread severe wind, tidal surge and rain damage can be expected on both islands, and they should both be assessed immediately. Power and communications have been lost with the islands, and help may be needed to restore this. The western-most island in the Niua’s, Niuafo’ou lies considerably further west and has escaped the brunt of the storm, although some damage is being reported as communications there remain intact. Further south, the Vava’u Group continues to be pounded by heavy rain, gales and high surf. However damage to these islands will not be as serious due to the distance from the core of the storm. To the south, the rest of Tonga including the Ha’apai Group and Tongtapu are getting some gales and squalls, but damage should not be serious.

Niue: It now seems very probable that Niue will receive a direct hit possibly even by the eyewall at a Category 4 level over the next 8 hours. This will result in severe to locally catastrophic damage throughout the island. As this report is being written, the inner core of the storm is just approaching Niue. Cyclone Warnings have been raised and preparations are now largely complete, so it will be a matter of riding out the storm. The one positive note is that the island has had 3 days to prepare, and thus should be very ready. Although damage will likely be widespread, the islanders will be in the safety of permanent cyclone-proof buildings.

Wallis and Futuna: No further reports have been received since the last report.

Samoa (including America Samoa): Preliminary reports are now being complied by NDMO and have already be sent to donors. Damage reported so far on Savai’i and Upolu is widespread, but is more in the moderate range although many areas of Savai’i have not been heard from yet. No loss of life has been reported.

More detailed information about the storm can be found on

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

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