Trail of damage as Cyclone Donna skirts Vanuatu

Geronimo Vena
Mag 7, 2017

Tropical Cyclone Donna, a destructive Category-Four storm, is now affecting all of Vanuatu, the country's MetService says. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reports slightly greater maximum sustained wind speeds of around 90 miles per hour (145 km/hr), equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane on the SSHWS.

"We're really concerned about children and families being more vulnerable due to impacts to drinking water and shelter", he said.

The official cyclone season in the Pacific ended on April 31.

Cyclone Donna is over northern Vanuatu with winds gusting up to 240km/h.

A track slightly more to the west would put New Caledonia's larger Grande Terre Island in the crosshairs of Donna, while Vanuatu's Tafea Province would be at risk if Donna tracks more to the east.

"It did not make landfall but the gale force winds affected some islands".

Coastal damage could also still be significant in low-lying areas. Damaging winds and heavy rainfall with flash flooding are expected are expected in those northern provinces.

An infrared image from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite on May 5 at 02:17 UTC (May 4 at 10:17 p.m. EDT) showed very cold cloud top temperatures in thunderstorms around Donna's center. The village of Sola in Torba was inundated with more than 250 mm (10 inches) of rain Wednesday afternoon to Friday, local time.

However, forecasters are warning that Donna isn't over yet.

"However, bands of tropical rain and gusty wind will still rotate across the northern islands of the country this weekend", AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Douty said.

Cyclone Donna could cause extensive wind damage and flooding. Donna may hover around a weak Cat 4 and a strong Cat 3 storm for the next day or two before slowly weakening back to Cat 2 towards New Caledonia - at least based on the current best thinking and more reliable models.

Vanuatu faces yet another destructive storm, after the previous devastation brought about by Cyclone Pam.

The island of Tanna, in southern Vanuatu, suffered major damage and cut the island off from the rest of the world. About 70 percent of the population were affected and 66,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, Red Cross says.

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