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.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

APCEDI Alert 13P, Cyclone Ivy #13, 2004

Dear Colleagues

Alert 13, Cyclone Ivy 13P / 26 February 2004, Sydney 0800 EDT

Cyclone Ivy remains a Category 2 storm and may be gaining increased strength today reaching Category 3. A large area of deep convection remains at the centre of the storm. The central core of deep convection reaches from the Banks Group in the north to Erromango in the south and covers all the large Northern Islands and adjacent islets including the capital Vila. The centre of this core is now in the channel between Malakula and Ambrym. However instead of speeding up as forecasted, its forward speed has actually slowed down, and Ivy is now moving at 4 knots to the south.

Torrential rains continue over the southern Banks Group, Santo, Malakula, Maewo, Pentecost, Ambrym, Ambae, Epi the Shepherds and Efate. Intermittent heavy rains are over the Erromango, Tanna and Anatom. Due to the slow forward speed of Ivy, this torrential rainfall situation will continue today throughout Northern, Central and Southern Vanuatu. It should begin to clear from the Banks Islands and Santo this morning and from the the other Northern Islands later this afternoon. Already Cape Cumberland on Santo has just cleared from the central core area in the last hour.

Inner feeder bands with severe gales and heavy rains continue to effect Anuta and Tikopia with more heavy rain moving into Vanikolo, the rest of the Santa Cruz Group and the Torres Group.

Most predictive models continue to forecast Ivy tracking southerly across the length of Vanuatu throughout the next 24-36 hours and then on to the east of New Caledonia. The official track out of the JTWC has Ivy moving over the Central Islands today to just west of Vila this afternoon as a Category 2-3 storm and then on to the Loyalty Islands and New Caledonia tomorrow as a Category 3. As such, the APCEDI warnings will continue all of Vanuatu from the Banks Group south and for Anuta and Tikopia in the Solomons. The APCEDI alerts for the Santa Cruz Group and the Torres Group will be reinstated at this time as heavy feeder band activity is strengthening over them as Ivy’s movement slows. More heavy rain from feeder bands is again entering this northern area today. If the eye feature maintains it current course, it will continue to pass to the west of Epi and would be west of Vila in about 8-12 hours.

The current situation is summarised as follows:

Possible Damaging Category 2 Eyewall-strength Gales and Torrential Rains

Damaging Sustained Category 2 Gales and Heavy Rain
Shepherd Islands
Efate (including the capital Vila)

Sustained Gales and Heavy Rain approaching damaging hurricane force in the next 6-10 hours

Intermittent Gales and Heavy Rain associated with Inner Feeder Bands (Storm now moving away)
Banks Group
Torres Group
Santa Cruz Group

Given the continuing Category 2 nature of the storm, damage overall at this time should be moderate and localised. However, the danger from flash-flooding remains extremely high as the storm creeps so slowly toward the south. As Ivy continues this slow movement, very heavy widespread rainfall could result in flash-flooding of mountain and hill areas as well as known flood prone areas. This is especially critical for the large Vanuatu islands. Due to the islands’ very high relief and the slow movement of the storm, flash flooding will be a major threat throughout tonight and tomorrow especially if the the storm continues to pass slowly or even stalls. Locally severe damage will also likely occur near to the centre of the storm. Varying degrees of crop damage are also likely. Seas will be very rough to phenomenal resulting in tidal flooding of low-lying areas. If a central eye wall manages to re-emerge later today, and the storm strengthens, damage along its path will certainly be more severe.

Larger Vanuatu Islands
The centre of Ivy is now between Malakula and Ambrym. Torrential rains and damaging Category 2 gales have been pounding Maewo, Pentecost, Ambae, Santo, Ambrym and Malakula for 2 days and will continue for most of today although Santo and Banks should soon be out of the main convection. Epi, the Shepherds and Efate will likewise be under the central core all day. This core area moved into Efate overnight, and the situation is now deteriorating in Erromango, Tanna and Anatom. The slow moving nature of the storm mean that rainfalls in the hundreds of millimetres will have been registered throughout the region and will be continuing. This will certainly be causing flash flooding of many stream valleys and larger rivers. The situation in hill and mountain areas of Santo, Malakula, Ambae, Pentecost and Ambrym is of particular concern. This concern will extend to the Central and Southern Islands today and tomorrow. GOV, NDMO and Donors should now prepare themselves for needing to make widespread assessments across almost all of big islands Vanuatu in the following days. This may be difficult as Vila itself will be under the gun much of today. In addition to flash flooding, coastal flooding and wind damage can be expected at least in localised areas near the centre.

Efate and the Capital Vila
Damage in Port Vila will depend very much on where the storm passes, the strength at the time of passage and the forward speed. Most models are showing the centre of Ivy passing about 50-100 km west of Vila. This is close enough to cause moderate to locally severe damage. If the storm centre reaches strong Category 2 –Category 3 strength and passes close to or over Vila, then damage could be severe to locally catastrophic. If the it passes further off the coast at a Category 2 level, damage will be light to moderate.

Banks Group
The centre of the storm is finally moving away from Mere Lava and the rest of the Banks Group. However, heavy feeder band activity remains across the Group. The whole group has had very heavy rains, very rough seas and increasingly severe winds for almost 48 hours. With the centre having slowly moved over Mere Lava, this outer island may be particularly hard hit. With the cyclone pulling away from this Group, assessments should be done of the areas to determine the degree of wind damage and flooding. Crops are likely badly affected in some areas.

Anuta and Tikopia, Solomons
Anuta and Tikopia are now out of the centre of the storm but unfortunately still continue in the inner feeder bands. Gales and heavy rains should start subsiding in the next 6 hours and become more intermittent and less severe after this. Light to moderate damage caused by tidal flooding of low-lying areas, crop damage and possibly some damage to unstable structures is expected given the nearly 48 hours of punishment by this storm. However, the overall damage will not be anywhere as bad as with Cyclone Zoe. However, the cumulative effects of 3 major cyclones in 14 months (Zoe, Gina and now Ivy) may well be wearing down the ability of the people and their environment and its resources to sustainably cope. NDMO and Donors should endeavour to make contact with the islands to assess both the immediate effects of Ivy and cumulative effects of the last 3 storms on the overall situation.

Torres Groups, Vanuatu and Santa Cruz Group, Solomons
Inner feeder bands with heavy rains and squalls have actually regrouped and become more widespread over this area. Seas remain very rough. The Torres Group, Vanikolo and to a lesser extent Utupua have received very heavy rainfall from their proximity to this slow moving storm so some flooding may have occurred. They should be assessed later today. The remainder of the Group has likely only experienced minor coastal flooding, but contact to all the all the smaller outliers should be undertaken to verify this.

General Alert
Authorities in Vanuatu from the Banks Group to Anatom (including Torres and Banks Islands, Pentecost, Ambae, Santo, Malakula, Ambrym, Paama, Ulveah, Epi, Shepherd Islands, Efate, Erromango, Tanna and Anatom including all small islands in these areas) as well as Anuta and Tikopia in the Eastern Solomons should continue on alert, monitor the path of the storm closely throughout tonight and tomorrow and take immediate actions to protect people and property. People in mountain areas along the eastern and southern slopes of ranges should be on alert for heavy rain resulting in flash flooding. Low lying coastal areas especially along east and southern parts of large islands should also be on alert for tidal flooding.

Concerns in New Caledonia including the Loyalty Islands should continue to monitor this storm as it develops over the next few days.

APCEDI will continue monitoring the event. More detailed information about the storm can be found on

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

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