30 Nov 2004

Increased risk of tropical cyclones about, and east of dateline

4:01 pm on 30 November 2004

An increased risk of tropical cyclones is being predicted for this season for Pacific Islands close to, and east of the dateline.

And, it is believed the cyclones will be more intense than in previous years.

Dr Jim Salinger, a principal scientist for New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, says a combination of factors, including a quasi weak El Nino state and warmer waters near the dateline, have led to them issuing the prediction.

"There will be increased risk in Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Niue, the southern Cooks, possibly Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and the Austral islands of French Polynesia. In other words, we're expecting a slightly higher risk in countries about, and east of the dateline."

Dr Salinger says the number of cyclones in a season varies, from as low as four last year to up to 17 in the 97/98 season.

But, he says an increase in their intensity is without doubt and the region should prepare for more cyclones like Heta this year which devastated Niue.