21 Jan 2011

Minor flooding in Samoa as tropical depression sparks weather warnings

12:09 pm on 21 January 2011

Heavy rains in Samoa have caused minor flooding to some parts of Apia.

The capital has been experiencing downpours since last week, bursting some rivers.

Our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says some low lying areas were flooded after heavy rain yesterday but the rain has cleared today.

He says the clean up process is near completion and there have been no reports of serious damage.

Reports say the market place at Fugalei was shut last evening after it was inundated with water and stores in Saleufi also closed because of the floods.

That comes as a tropical depression is being closely monitored by Fiji's Metservice to see if it will develop into a cyclone and affect Samoa, Tonga and Fiji this weekend.

On duty weather forecaster at the Fiji Metservice, Stephen Meke, says the depression is moving at 5 knots and currently it is located south west of Samoa.

He says islands in the vicinity of the depression will be starting to feel its effects, and more so if it develops further.

"Samoa will experience some gale force winds and the centre would be close to Samoa and Fiji would also be experiencing strong winds and if it intensifies further then definitely they'd be gale force winds experienced in Tonga and Fiji."

Samoa's weather office is issuing special weather bulletins warning people about the tropical depression.

It says there is a moderate chance it could develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 18 to 36 hours and it is expected to move southeast between Tonga and Samoa.

A gale watch is now effect for Samoa and all mariners and fishing boats are advised of rough seas and developing northwesterly swells.

Flood advice has also been issued for river banks, drainages roads and low lying areas vulnerable to floods due to occasional rain.

American Samoa is also now under a wind advisory with the National Weather Service forecasting winds of 32 to 40 kilometres per hour with gusts of up to 80 kilometres per hour near mountains.

The weather service is advising residents to take precautionary measures, while motorists are asked to stay alert to the danger

of the winds.

Hardware stores report demand from shoppers for flashlights and batteries, and customers in the Tafuna area are stocking up on water and food.

The US Coast Guard and Port Administration is calling a port users and stake holders meeting for tomorrow morning to make plans for the heavy weather.