2018–19 South Pacific cyclone season

Last updated
2018–19 South Pacific cyclone season
2018-2019 South Pacific cyclone season summary.png
Season summary map
Seasonal boundaries
First system formedSeptember 26, 2018
Last system dissipatedMay 21, 2019
Strongest storm
NamePola
  Maximum winds165 km/h (105 mph)
(10-minute sustained)
  Lowest pressure950 hPa (mbar)
Seasonal statistics
Total disturbances12, 1 unofficial
Total depressions9, 1 unofficial
Tropical cyclones5
Severe tropical cyclones2
Total fatalitiesNone
Total damage$50 million (2018 USD)
Related articles
South Pacific tropical cyclone seasons
2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020–21

The 2018–19 South Pacific cyclone season was a below-average season that produced 5 tropical cyclones, 2 of which became severe tropical cyclones. The season officially runs from November 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019; however, a tropical cyclone could form at any time between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 and would count towards the season total. During the season, tropical cyclones will be officially monitored by the Fiji Meteorological Service, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and New Zealand's MetService. The United States Armed Forces through the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also monitored the basin and issued warnings for American interests. RSMC Nadi attaches a number and an F suffix to tropical disturbances that form in or move into the basin, while the JTWC designates significant tropical cyclones with a number and a P suffix. The FMS, the BoM and MetService all use the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale and estimate wind speeds over a period of ten minutes, while the JTWC estimates sustained winds over a 1-minute period, which are subsequently compared to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS).

Contents

Seasonal forecasts

Source/Record Tropical
Cyclone
Severe
Tropical Cyclone
Ref
Record high: 1997–98: 16 1982–83: 10 [1]
Record low: 2011–12:  3 2008–09:  0 [1] [2]
Average (1969-70 - 2017-18):7.1  [2]
NIWA October7-114 [3]
Fiji Meteorological Service7-92-4 [2]
RegionChance of
above average
Average
number
Actual
activity
Western South Pacific53%76
Eastern South Pacific43%44
Source:BOM's South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season Outlook. [4]

Ahead of the cyclone season formally starting, the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS), Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), New Zealand's MetService and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and various other Pacific Meteorological services, all contributed towards the Island Climate Update tropical cyclone outlook that was released during October 2018. [3] The outlook took into account the ENSO neutral conditions that had been observed across the Pacific and analogue seasons that had ENSO neutral and El Nino conditions occurring during the season. [3] The outlook called for a near-average number of tropical cyclones for the 2018–19 season, with seven to eleven named tropical cyclones, predicted to occur between 135°E and 120°W compared to an average of about 10. [3] At least three of the tropical cyclones were expected to intensify further and become severe tropical cyclones, while it was noted that a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone could occur during the season. [3]

In addition to contributing towards the Island Climate Update outlook, the FMS and the BoM issued their own seasonal forecasts for the South Pacific region. [2] [4] The BoM issued two seasonal forecasts for the Southern Pacific Ocean, for their self-defined eastern and western regions of the South Pacific Ocean. [4] They predicted that the Western region between 142.5°E and 165°E, had a 48% chance of seeing activity above its average of 7 tropical cyclones. The BoM also predicted that the Eastern Region between 165°E and 120°W, had a 55% chance of seeing activity above its average of 4 tropical cyclones. [4] Within their outlook the FMS predicted that between seven and nine tropical cyclones, would occur within the basin compared to an average of around 7.1 cyclones. [2] At least two of the tropical cyclones were expected to intensify further and become Category 3 or higher severe tropical cyclones. [2]

Both the Island Climate Update and the FMS tropical cyclone outlooks assessed the risk of a tropical cyclone affecting a certain island or territory. [2] [3] The Island Climate Update Outlook predicted that the Austral Islands, American Samoa, the Cook Islands and Samoa had an elevated chance, while the Northern Cook Islands had a normal to elevated chance of being impacted by a tropical cyclone. [3] They also predicted that Fiji, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna, the Society and the Solomon Islands all had a near-normal risk of being impacted. [3] The outlook noted that Vanuatu and New Caledonia had a normal to reduced risk of being impacted by multiple tropical cyclones while it was considered unlikely that the Pitcairn Islands, Kiribati and parts of French Polynesia such as the Marquesas Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago would be impacted by a tropical cyclone. [3] The FMS's outlook predicted that Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna, Tokelau, Samoa, Niue, the Cook, Society and Austral Islands had an increased chance of being impacted by a tropical cyclone. [2] Their outlook also predicted that the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, the Pitcairn Islands and Tuamotu Archipelago and the Gambier Islands had a normal chance of being impacted by a tropical cyclone. [2] It was also noted that New Caledonia had a reduced chance of being affected by a tropical cyclone, while tropical cyclone activity near Kiribati and the Marquesas Islands was considered unlikely. [2] It was thought by the FMS that there was an increased risk of Wallis & Futuna, the Cook, Society and the Austral Islands being impacted by at least one severe tropical cyclone, while other areas such as Fiji, New Caledonia, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and Niue had a normal to reduced chance of being impacted by a severe tropical cyclone. [2]

Seasonal summary

Cyclone Ann (2019)Tropical cyclone scales#Comparisons across basins2018-19 South Pacific cyclone season

Systems

Tropical Cyclone Liua

Category 1 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Liua 2018-09-26 2345Z.jpg   Liua 2018 track.png
DurationSeptember 26 (Entered basin) – September 28 (Exited basin)
Peak intensity75 km/h (45 mph) (10-min)  994  hPa  (mbar)

A disturbance which initially formed in the Australian region basin crossed into the South Pacific basin on September 26 and strengthened, and was designated as Tropical Depression 01F by RSMC Nadi. [5] Late on September 26, the storm intensified into a tropical cyclone, and was given the name Liua. Liua is the earliest-forming named tropical cyclone in the South Pacific basin since reliable records began, surpassing 1997's Cyclone Lusi. [6]

Tropical Depression 03F

Tropical depression (Australian scale)
Temporary cyclone south.svg   03F 2018 track.png
DurationDecember 28 – January 1
Peak intensity55 km/h (35 mph) (10-min)  998  hPa  (mbar)

During December 28, the FMS reported that Tropical Disturbance 03F had developed within a trough of low pressure, about 685 km (425 mi) to the east of Honiara in the Solomon Islands. [7] The disturbance was located within a favourable environment for further development to the south of an upper-level ridge, while deep atmospheric convection persisted over the systems elongated low-level circulation. [7] [8] During the next day, as the organisation of the system improved, the FMS relocated the system to be located near the Solomon Island of San Cristobal. [9] The system subsequently moved eastwards through Temotu Province and gradually developed further, before it was classified as a tropical depression during December 30.

Tropical Cyclone Mona

Category 2 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Mona 2019-01-06 Suomi NPP.jpg   Mona 2019 track.png
DurationDecember 31 (Entered basin) – January 7
Peak intensity95 km/h (60 mph) (10-min)  985  hPa  (mbar)

Mona entered this basin as a tropical low from the Australian region basin. The system then intensified into Tropical Depression 04F on January 3. Later that day, it intensified into a Category 1 cyclone on the Australian scale. On January 7, the system dissipated. About 2,000 people took shelter in 40 evacuation centers over the weekend, and thirty roads were closed, mostly due to floods and some landslides. People in the Lau group have been warned to expect gale-force and heavy rain as Mona tracks south, before arching south west over Fiji over the next 24 hours. [10]

Tropical Disturbance 05F

Tropical disturbance (Australian scale)
Temporary cyclone south.svg   05F 2018-19 track.png
DurationDecember 31 – January 2
Peak intensityWinds not specified  998  hPa  (mbar)

Tropical Depression 06F

Tropical depression (Australian scale)
TD 06F 2019-02-07.png   06F 2019 track.png
DurationFebruary 3 – February 9
Peak intensityWinds not specified  994  hPa  (mbar)

On February 3, Tropical Depression 06F formed to the north of Fiji. The system moved in a south-easterly direction and was predicted to reach Category 1 status while the system was located to the NNW of Niua Fo'ou Island. However, due to strong wind shear and cool air flowing from the south of the system, 06F was not named. Tonga was largely affected by TD 06F. On the island, gale-force winds flattened banana plantations and crops, especially the casava plant. The system disrupted schools and transportation. All schools were cancelled on Friday, February 8 and all sea and air transportation was disrupted.

On Saturday, the Cyclone Alert and Gale warning that was issued for Tonga regarding TD 06F was lifted. However, another Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert was issued together with new warnings was issued regarding the thread from TD 07F (which later become Neil) which recently formed north of Fiji. TD 06F was one of 4 tropical systems to directly impact the island nation (the others are Tropical Cyclone Neil, Tropical Depression 08F and Tropical Depression 10F) within 1 week.

Tropical Cyclone Neil

Category 1 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Neil 2019-02-09 Suomi NPP.jpg   Neil 2019 track.png
DurationFebruary 8 – February 10
Peak intensity65 km/h (40 mph) (10-min)  994  hPa  (mbar)

On February 8, a tropical low developed into Tropical Depression 07F. The system intensified into a Category 1 tropical cyclone on February 9, 2019, and was assigned the name Neil. The system reached its peak intensity later that day with 10-minute sustained winds of 65 km/h (40 mph). On February 10, Neil weakened into a tropical depression, before dissipating soon afterward. Tonga issued warnings for Neil while it was active, but lifted those warnings once the storm weakened. No structural damage was reported from the storm. [11]

Tropical Depression 08F

Tropical depression (Australian scale)
Temporary cyclone south.svg   08F 2019 track.png
DurationFebruary 10 – February 13
Peak intensityWinds not specified  996  hPa  (mbar)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Oma

Category 3 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 1 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Oma 2019-02-19 0256Z.jpg   Oma 2019 track.png
DurationFebruary 11 (Entered basin) – February 22
Peak intensity130 km/h (80 mph) (10-min)  974  hPa  (mbar)

On February 7, a tropical low developed within an active monsoon trough, along the coast of Vanuatu. [12]

The low crossed into the South Pacific Basin and began intensifying into a tropical cyclone on February 11, earning the name Oma, and quickly reaching Category 2 tropical cyclone intensity.

It then strengthened into a severe tropical cyclone on February 15, reaching its initial peak intensity on February 16, as a Category 3 tropical cyclone on the Australian region scale. Oma then briefly weakened on February 17, before it restrengthened into a severe tropical cyclone and reached its peak intensity on February 19. Oma exited the South Pacific basin and returned to the Australian Region as a tropical cyclone on February 21. Oma weakened to a Category 2 tropical cyclone while approaching the Australian coast. On February 22, Tropical Cyclone Oma crossed over into the South Pacific basin once again. Late on February 22, Oma transitioned into an subtropical cyclone, while turning to the northeast. For the next several days, Oma continued drifting northeastward, weakening further into a subtropical depression on February 25. On February 27, Oma turned eastward, while situated over Vanuatu, and the storm subsequently dissipated on February 28.

Persistent heavy rain, damaging surf, and strong winds battered the northern provinces of Malampa, Sanma, Torba in Vanuatu for several days. Storm surge inundated coastal communities on February 17, extending up to 50 m (160 ft) inland in some areas. Multiple traditionally constructed homes were destroyed while flooding from swollen rivers washed out roads. The strong winds downed trees across the affected region. Communications with Torba were disrupted, with authorities unable to reach the Torres Islands. [13]

Damaging winds up to 140 km/h (87 mph) and heavy rain from the cyclone had battered New Caledonia, leaving thousands of residents without power and isolating some villages. [14] Agriculture was particularly hard-hit with losses reported in all provinces. The French government declared a state of calamity, directed at agriculture, for the entire island which freed 150 million (US$1.43 million) for recovery. [15]

Oma sunk a bulk carrier near the Solomon Islands, and it resulted in an oil spill. The cleaning cost were about US$50 million. [16]

Tropical Depression 10F

Tropical depression (Australian scale)
Temporary cyclone south.svg   10F 2019 track.png
DurationFebruary 11 – February 13
Peak intensityWinds not specified  996  hPa  (mbar)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Pola

Category 4 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 2 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Pola 2019-02-28 0129Z.jpg   Pola 2019 track.png
DurationFebruary 23 – March 2
Peak intensity165 km/h (105 mph) (10-min)  950  hPa  (mbar)

During February 23, the FMS reported that Tropical Disturbance 11F had developed, about 525 km (325 mi) to the northwest of Apia, Samoa. The system gradually organized while slowly moving southward. Situated in an environment with sea surface temperatures of 28-30 degrees Celsius and low vertical wind shear, the system intensified into Tropical Cyclone Pola on February 26. Later that day, Pola intensified into a Category 2 tropical cyclone, before becoming a severe tropical cyclone on February 27. On February 28, the system reached its peak intensity, as a Category 4 tropical cyclone on the Australian scale, with 10-minute sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 950 hPa (mbar). On March 1, Pola began to weaken while turning eastward, as a result of cooler sea surface temperatures and shear from a high-pressure system over New Zealand. Early on March 2, Pola weakened into a subtropical depression, before dissipating later that day.

Tropical Depression 12F

Tropical depression (Australian scale)
Temporary cyclone south.svg   12F 2019 track.png
DurationMay 16 – May 21
Peak intensity55 km/h (35 mph) (10-min)  1002  hPa  (mbar)

On May 16, the FMS started tracking a disturbance for possible cyclone development north of Fiji, in an environment of moderate wind shear and sea surface temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F). By May 18, the FMS classed the system as a tropical depression, giving it the identifier 12F, and they forecast the system to reach tropical cyclone intensity within 12–24 hours, and to ultimately attain 10-minute sustained winds of 85 km/h (50 mph). Later the same day, 12F began to move towards the southeast, and the FMS reported that the system was unlikely to intensify further, due to moderately-high wind shear in the area.

Other systems

During November 11, the FMS reported that Tropical Disturbance 02F had developed about 340 km (210 mi) to the north-northeast of Honiara in the Solomon Islands. [17] At this stage the system was located within an area of low vertical windshear, while deep convection surrounding the system's low level circulation was poorly organised. Over the next few days, the system's organization slightly improved as it moved south-eastwards, before it was last noted during November 16, while located about 575 km (355 mi) to the northeast of Port Vila in Vanuatu.

On May 7, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reported that a weak tropical low had developed within a low-pressure trough, to the east of the Solomon Islands. [18] Over the next couple of days, the system gradually moved south-westwards and moved into the Australian region during May 10, where it later developed into a Category 2 tropical cyclone, and received the name Ann from the BOM.

Season effects

This table lists all the storms that developed in the South Pacific to the east of longitude 160°E during the 2018–19 season. It includes their intensity on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, duration, name, landfalls, deaths, and damages. All data is taken from the FMS and/or MetService, and all of the damage figures are in 2018 USD.

NameDates active Peak classification Sustained
wind speeds
PressureAreas affectedDamage
(USD)
DeathsRefs
LiuaSeptember 26 – 28Category 1 tropical cyclone75 km/h (45 mph)994 hPa (29.35 inHg) Solomon Islands None0
02FNovember 11 – 16Tropical disturbanceNot specified1003 hPa (29.62 inHg)Solomon IslandsNone0
03FDecember 28 – January 1Tropical depression55 km/h (35 mph)998 hPa (29.47 inHg)Solomon Islands, Fiji None0
MonaDecember 31 – January 7Category 2 tropical cyclone95 km/h (60 mph)985 hPa (29.09 inHg)Solomon Islands, FijiMinimal0
05FDecember 31 – January 2Tropical disturbanceNot specified998 hPa (29.47 inHg)RotumaNone0
06FFebruary 3 – 9Tropical depressionNot specified994 hPa (29.35 inHg) Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, Tonga None0
NeilFebruary 8 – 10Category 1 tropical cyclone65 km/h (40 mph)994 hPa (29.35 inHg)Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, TongaNone0
08FFebruary 10 – 13Tropical depressionNot specified996 hPa (29.41 inHg)Fiji, TongaNone0
OmaFebruary 11 – 22Category 3 severe tropical cyclone130 km/h (80 mph)974 hPa (28.76 inHg)Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia $50 million0
10FFebruary 11 – 13Tropical depressionNot specified996 hPa (29.41 inHg)Wallis and Futuna, FijiNone0
PolaFebruary 23 – March 2Category 4 severe tropical cyclone165 km/h (105 mph)950 hPa (28.05 inHg)Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, Tonga
Ann May 7 – 18Category 2 tropical cyclone95 km/h (60 mph)993 hPa (29.09 inHg)Solomon Islands, New CaledoniaNone0
12FMay 16 – 21Tropical depression55 km/h (35 mph)1002 hPa (29.59 inHg)NoneNone0
Season aggregates
13 systemsSeptember 26 – May 21165 km/h (105 mph)950 hPa (28.05 inHg)$50 million0

See also

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The 2013–14 South Pacific cyclone season was a slightly below average tropical cyclone season, with six tropical cyclones occurring within the basin between 160°E and 120°W. The season ran from November 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014, however, the first four tropical disturbances occurred during October 2013 and were included as a part of the season. During the season, tropical cyclones were officially monitored by the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS), Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and New Zealand's MetService. The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and other national meteorological services including Météo-France and NOAA also monitored the basin during the season. During the season there were 21 significant tropical disturbances were assigned a number and an "F" suffix by the FMS's Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in Nadi, Fiji (RSMC Nadi), including the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Hadi from the Australian region. The BoM, MetService and RSMC Nadi all estimated sustained wind speeds over a period of 10-minutes and used the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, while the JTWC estimated sustained winds over a 1-minute period, which are subsequently compared to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHS).

2014–15 South Pacific cyclone season

The 2014–15 South Pacific cyclone season was a slightly-below average tropical cyclone season, with five tropical cyclones occurring within the basin between 160°E and 120°W. The season officially ran from November 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015. During the season, tropical cyclones were officially monitored by the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) in Nadi, Fiji and the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centers in Brisbane, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand. The United States Armed Forces through the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also monitored the basin and issued unofficial warnings for American interests. RSMC Nadi attaches a number and an F suffix to tropical disturbances that form in or move into the basin while the JTWC designates significant tropical cyclones with a number and a P suffix. RSMC Nadi, TCWC Wellington and TCWC Brisbane all use the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale and estimate windspeeds over a period of ten minutes, while the JTWC estimated sustained winds over a 1-minute period, which are subsequently compared to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS).

2015–16 South Pacific cyclone season east of 160°E

The 2015–16 South Pacific cyclone season was one of the most disastrous South Pacific tropical cyclone seasons on record, with a total of 50 deaths and $1.405 billion in damage. Throughout the season, 8 systems attained tropical cyclone status, whilst 5 became severe tropical cyclones. The most notable cyclone of the season by far was Winston, which attained a minimum pressure of 884 hPa, and maximum ten-minute sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h), making it the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. Winston went on to devastate Fiji, causing $1.4 billion in damage and 44 deaths across the country.

2016–17 South Pacific cyclone season

The 2016–17 South Pacific cyclone season was the least active South Pacific cyclone season since the 2011–12 season, with only four tropical cyclones occurring within the South Pacific Ocean to the east of 160°E. Two of the four systems developed into severe tropical cyclones on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale. The season officially ran from November 1, 2016 until April 30, 2017. However, May featured two post-season systems: Donna and Ella, of which the former was the strongest post-season South Pacific tropical cyclone ever recorded in that month. Overall, 22 tropical disturbances were monitored by a combination of the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS), Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and New Zealand's MetService.

2017–18 South Pacific cyclone season

The 2017–18 South Pacific cyclone season was a slightly below-average season that produced 6 tropical cyclones, 3 of which became severe tropical cyclones. The season officially began on November 1, 2017 and ended on April 30, 2018; however, a tropical cyclone could form at any time between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018 and would count towards the season total. During the season, tropical cyclones were officially monitored by the Fiji Meteorological Service, MetService and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, while the United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also monitored the basin and issued warnings for American interests. The FMS attaches a number and an F suffix to significant tropical disturbances that form in or move into the basin, while the JTWC designates significant tropical cyclones with a number and a P suffix. The BoM, FMS and MetService all use the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale and estimate wind speeds over a period of ten minutes, while the JTWC estimates sustained winds over a 1-minute period, which are subsequently compared to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS).

2019–20 South Pacific cyclone season

The 2019–20 South Pacific cyclone season is the period of the year when most tropical cyclones form within the South Pacific Ocean to the east of 160°E. The season officially runs from November 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020, however a tropical cyclone could form at any time between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 and would count towards the season total. During the season, tropical cyclones were officially monitored by the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS), Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and New Zealand's MetService. The United States Armed Forces through the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also monirors the basin and issue unofficial warnings for American interests. The FMS attaches a number and an F suffix to tropical disturbances that form in or move into the basin while the JTWC designates significant tropical cyclones with a number and a P suffix. The FMS, BoM and MetService all use the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale and estimate wind speeds over a period of ten minutes, while the JTWC estimated sustained winds over a 1-minute period, which are subsequently compared to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS).

References

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