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World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Tropical Cyclone Committee Meeting for the South West Pacific and South East Indian Ocean meet in New Caledonia this week, 23-26 July 2018

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25th July, 2018 – Noumea, New Caledonia Representatives of Members of the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committee for the South West Pacific and the South East Indian Ocean are meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia this week.

Speaking from Noumea, New Caledonia Tonga’s Director of Meteorology, Mr. Ofa Fa’anunu who is representing Tonga at this important meeting said “Because our region is so vulnerable to the impacts of tropical cyclone hazards, we meet every 2 years essentially to (1) review the warning activities that took place in the previous 2 cyclone seasons and (2) to review the regional tropical cyclone operational plan. It is vital that we keep striving to improve tropical cyclone warning services in the region to give communities the timely and accurate information they need to minimise the risk of impacts of tropical cyclone that may endanger lives, property or the environment. One of the things we are looking to change this week in our tropical cyclone operational plan is to start to bring in disaster risk management based decision making into the production of tropical cyclone warnings and not just issue warnings based on when certain criteria are met but to anticipate what is likely to be the impacts ahead of time and take steps to improve warnings. An example of this is the criteria for naming tropical cyclones.

It helps no one really when cyclones are named in the middle of the night. So we have to decide on criteria for the naming of tropical cyclone during daylight hours based on forecasts and not on when criteria are met so that communities have enough daylight hours to prepare for the onset of the Cyclone. We also have to look at operational capacities and competencies within National Met Services to be able to competently provide impact based tropical cyclone warnings for the respective countries. Fa’anunu added.

Fa’anunu further commented,“ One of the things that didn’t go so well for Tonga during the 2017/18 tropical cyclone season was the handover of warnings responsibilities for Tonga to the Regional Centre in Fiji after Tropical Gita damaged the Fua’amotu Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre. It is clear that coordination during such incidences needs to be improved in the Region and with will  be a special focus this week to ensure regular testing are done regionally with the view to minimise disruptions to warnings.

This is the 17th time the WMO SWP and SE Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Committee have met since its inception and have 18 member countries including Tonga. Partners from Regional and International Organisations the IFRC, UNESCAP, SPC and SPREP also attended.

Tonga became a Member of WMO in February 1996 and has been a Member of the Tropical Cyclone Committee since.

Media contact:

Mr ’Ofa Fa’anunu – Director, Tonga Meteorological Service, e:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it T: (+676) 35355

 

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