Cyclone Pam reportedly hits Vanuatu capital with 115mph winds

13 Mar 2015

Category 5 tropical Cyclone Pam appeared to hit Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila this afternoon.

The coastal capital is vulnerable to aggressive weather, with warnings of Pam’s destructive capabilities coming a few days ago.

Vanuatu Meteorological Services (VMS) were warning of the impending impact yesterday, with acting director David Gibson saying: “Based on the forecast, it will not make landfall, but it will remain very close to the Vanuatu islands,” warning of the threat posed to Port Vila.

The Vanuata islands have been in lockdown for a number of hours as the storm circles the island.

“The weather is getting wilder by the minute and the capital, like much of the rest of the country, remains in a state of lockdown,” UNICEF Pacific spokeswoman Alice Clements said from the capital, Port Vila yesterday, on Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Cyclone Pam had changed course, heading for Vanuatu’s more populated areas, with fears of homes being destroyed and landslides mounting.

Now CNN claims satellite footage shows the eye of the storm resting right over the capital of a country with over 250,000 inhabitants, north east of Australia.

Pam is not the only storm knocking around the area, with Olywn and Nathan situated to the north of Australia and Bavi further out to sea in the Pacific. The entire region is on alert as the storms pass by.

According to The Weather Channel, category five cyclones (of which Pam is included) are not uncommon to the region. In fact nine such storms have hit “the southwest Pacific Ocean basin” since 1970. Based on that, and the fact the last such storm hit in 2010, they are almost expected every five years.

Tropical storm image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic