Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cyclone Arthur - First in French Polynesia since 2000

Tahitipresse reported yesterday evening:

Tropical depression Arthur due to become French Polynesia's 1st cyclone since 2000 by Thursday

(Tahitipresse) - Arthur, a strong tropical depression located 950 kilometers (590 miles) west of Bora Bora Wednesday afternoon will become French Polynesia's first cyclone since 2000 according to information from the French High Commissioner's Office in Papeete.

However, a press communiqué stated that Arthur will remain "very far away" from French Polynesia coastlines "without generating major incidents" and is due to become a tropical depression once again with less intensity Thursday afternoon as it reaches the southernmost Austral Islands.

Météo France, the French meteorological service, is forecasting occasionally heavy rain through Friday in the Society Islands, particularly for the north and east coasts of the Leeward Islands of Tahiti and Moorea during the next two nights and during the day on Friday in the Leeward Islands.

Arthur was as strong tropical depression at 2 pm Wednesday with a location 950 kilometers (590 miles) west of Bora Bora, Météo France reported in its 3:50 pm weather forecast on its Internet Web site.

Arthur is the second tropical depression in less than a week. It follows Zita, which moved through French Polynesia between Monday and Wednesday, traveling west of the Leeward Islands and heading to the Austral Islands. This is approximately the same path forecast for Arthur.

Arthur, with winds at the center of an average 100 kph (62 mph) Wednesday will become a cyclone overnight, passing during the mid-morning of Thursday within 200-250 km (124-155 miles) southwest of Mopelia, an uninhabited atoll in the Leeward Islands about 160 km (99 miles) west-southwest of Maupiti.

By then, winds are expected to have an average speed of more than 60 kph (37 mph) with gusts of up to 100 kph (62 mph). Heavy rain is forecast for all of Thursday and seas will be rough with swells of four to six meters (13-19 ft.) high, overflowing coral reefs and raising the water level in lagoons, the communiqué stated.

The storm's intensity is expected to decrease Thursday afternoon becoming a tropical depression once again as it reaches the Austral Islands of Rimatara and Rurutu, the high commissioner's communiqué states. Average winds are expected to be 70-80 kph (43-50 mph) with gusts up to 120 kph (74.5 mph). There will be heavy rain, rough seas and swells of four to six meters (13-19 ft.) high.

While Zita was French Polynesia's first tropical depression since Judy passed through the central Tuamotu Archipelago from Dec. 22-27, 2004, Arthur was the first cyclone since Kim in the Leeward Islands in February 2000, Météo France said Wednesday.

Zita brought heavy rains and rough seas to the Leeward and Windward Islands, which are collectively known as the Society Islands in French Polynesia, the most tourist-oriented destinations. Flooding, mudslides and rockslides occurred on Tahiti and Moorea last week, but there were no injuries reported. And no tourist industry facilities were reported damaged.

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