17 Feb 2005

Niue and Cooks told to expect strong winds but Olaf not expected to make landfall

9:59 pm on 17 February 2005

Cyclone Olaf, which earlier today battered American Samoa's eastern Manu'a Islands, is expected to bring damaging gale force winds to Palmerston Island, the most northern of the southern Cook Islands, tomorrow morning.

The Cyclone at its centre currently has winds of 213 kilometres.

These are expected to drop to 190 kilometres over the next day.

The Fiji Met Service says Palmerston can expect squally thunderstoms and seas becoming rough to very rough with damaging heavy swells, while Niue has been advised to expect winds that could reach damaging gale force by tomorrow. .

It is predicting winds of up to 90 kilometres an hour for the rest of the southern Cooks group by tomorrow night.

Cook Islands meteorologist, Maara Vaiimene, says the country is well prepared.

He says the people know what to expect after the Meena and Nancy.

"that is what we are preparing for. To expect that type of wind strength when the cyclone gets closer here in the Southern Cooks and especially here in Rarotonga. We are preparing for two hundred kilometre per hour winds."

Maara Vaiimene says they are forecasting strong winds on the west coasts of the main islands and some people have already been evacuated.

if you are along the coast evacuate, if you haven't tied your house down do so -what we have been doing through the two recent cyclones Meena and Nancy, so in terms of preparations here in southern Cook Islands we are ready.