Cyclone Evan Continues to Pound Samoa; Like Killer Storm Bopha, Evan Curiously Eluding the Evening News

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I’m writing this in the afterglow of the star-studded 12-12-12 concert in New York City last night — by all accounts a very successful fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Sandy (aka, Superstorm Sandy). I’m also writing this immediately following the dissipation of Typhoon Bopha (pictures), the cyclone that devastated the Philippines and is the strongest cyclone to ever strike the southern Philippine city of Mindanao. Total fatalities are listed as 902, with 934 people still missing. It was only a year ago that Mindanao was devastated by Tropical Storm Washi. There’s a good chance that even after Evan clears Apia and finally dissipates sometime after it crosses Fiji, it won’t make the mainstream media. However, it’s good to keep these distant people in your thoughts and prayers at any time of the year, but especially now during this holiday season when it’s so easy to deal with other things so close to home.

You probably haven’t heard of Cyclone Evan, at least not yet. The two-day old storm formed in the open waters of the South Pacific between Fiji and Samoa and quickly moved to the east. At the time of the first bulletin, winds were 35 knots gusting to 45 knots. 15 hours later winds were gusting to 65 and the storm had moved to just west of Samoa. By the time the third bulletin was issued, the storm had increased in intensity (65 gusting to 80) and was just off the coast of the smaller island Upolu, almost midway between Samoa (55 miles) and American Samoa (80 miles). Last night’s bulletin, the fourth, revealed that the storm had moved between American Samoa and Upolu, while the winds had continued to increase, now indicated at 80 gusting to 100 knots (115 mph) while just about 35 miles from the American Samoa coast and about 20 miles from Apia, the largest city on Upolu. The fifth bulletin, issued just six hours ago, has moved the storm northeastward — still only about 20 miles off the coast of Upolu — while the intensity has remained constant.

As of this writing, the estimated maximum sustained winds are 90 knots (almost 104 mph) with higher gusts. Rainfall has been significant.

Cyclone Evan’s current location near and over the islands in the Samoan chain, including Somoa, Upolo and American Samoa. Image: ImpactWeather

Since the movement has been more or less consistently to the east, one might hope — now that the storm has moved east of the main islands — that the storm will continue on this track. However, that is not to be. Within the next 12 hours, the storm is expected to make a boomerang 180 degree turn, and return to Apia while continuing to strengthen. In fact, by tonight sustained winds are expected to be 105 with gusts to 130 knots (just shy of 150 mph) — at about the very time it is expected to be on top of Apia.

The city of Apia is the largest city on the island of Upolu, and the second largest city of Samoa. Upolo itself is only 434 square miles, and if it sounds familiar it’s because it has been a regular location for the TV show Survivor. Apia’s population, based on the 2006 census, is almost 38,000 people. Not directly in the crosshairs of Evan, but very close just the same, is American Samoa. American Samoa, according to the 2010 census, has 55,519 residents; it’s total area is 76.1 square miles.

The expected storm track of Cyclone Evan. Image: ImpactWeather

Once the storm turns back to Apia tonight, the forecast is expected to take the storm on a more or less straight course to Fiji, just over 700 miles to the southwest. Along the way it will grow stronger, with winds peaking at 110 sustained and gusts to 135 (155 mph) later tomorrow and overnight into Saturday before finally showing signs of weakening. However, even as it crosses Fiji Sunday into Monday, gusts should continue to top 100 (115 mph).


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