16 Feb 2005

Samoa's two main islands could be spared direct hit by Cyclone Olaf

3:11 pm on 16 February 2005

The two main islands in Samoa could be spared a direct hit by Cyclone Olaf as it is now expected to curve in a more south-easterly direction over the next couple of hours.

Forecaster Erick Brenstrum at the New Zealand Met. Service says Olaf is approximately 100 kilometres north of Savai'i, moving in an east/south easterly direction.

He says Olaf, which is an extremely intense cyclone, could now skirt just to the north of the two main islands of Savai'i and Upolu.

"At the moment, the worst of the winds which are very close to the centre - and are severe hurricane force with sustained speeds of over 200 kilometres an hour - it seems possible now that those winds will miss the two main islands. They will nevertheless get storm force winds, possibly even winds up to hurricane force of 120 kilometres an hour but not the very worst of the winds that are right next to the eye."

Mr Brenstrum says the threat of phenomenal seas and flooding in low lying coastal areas remains and the cyclone could still hit American Samoa.