24 Oct 2023

Tropical Cyclone Lola develops into category 5 super storm

12:27 pm on 24 October 2023
Latest satellite image of Tropical cyclone Lola

A satellite image showing the extent of Tropical Cyclone Lola on Tuesday morning. Photo: The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department

Tropical Cyclone Lola has intensified to a category 5 super cyclone with winds close to its centre of 215 km/h, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department says.

Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office said red alerts have been issued for two more provinces as the category 5 cyclone Lola approaches the eastern islands.

The Provinces of Penama and Malampa, like Torba and Sanma are on red alert - the highest alert level in Vanuatu - signalling a cyclone is imminent and that people need to stay in a secure shelter or other safe place.

At 8am local time on Tuesday, the cyclone was 190km east of Sola and 180km northeast of Maewo, moving in a south direction at 4 km/hr.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department said heavy rainfalls with flash flooding were expected over low lying areas and areas close to river banks, including coastal flooding over Vanuatu group, on Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday.

Very rough seas with heavy to phenomenal swells were expected over all Vanuatu waters.

A Vanuatu Red Cross representative on Santo island, Shirley Johnson, told Morning Report at 5.30am local time they were so far experiencing some strong winds but said "it takes time for the strong winds to come in".

However she said on Monday 20 to 30 people from flood prone areas were already being evacuated and people in the Banks Islands group in Torba Province and Penama Province were already experiencing very strong winds.

"They also evacuated people to the evacuation centre just to make sure they're safe.

"This morning I was not able to reach them, I will try to reach them to hear what the situation is because yesterday already they called and they said they were already experiencing very, very strong winds and also they have heavy rain."

The National Disaster Management Office has convened an inter-agency briefing to plan the emergency response.

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