Cyclone Amos: Samoa escapes the worst

Avao in Savaii just before darkness. Photo: Peteli Peter Leota / Samoa Weather Watchers / Facebook
Avao in Savaii just before darkness. Photo: Peteli Peter Leota / Samoa Weather Watchers / Facebook

Samoa appears to have escaped the worst of Cyclone Amos this morning.

Samoa Observer editor Mata'afa Keni Lesa told the New Zealand Herald this morning there had been minimal damage.

"[It's a] peaceful morning and people are making their way to church."

Air New Zealand are still scheduled to fly to Samoa this afternoon.

Virgin Australia yesterday cancelled Sunday morning flights out of Apia, including one bound for Auckland.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said this morning NZ0992 would leave Auckland for Apia at 3.30pm, but they were keeping a close watch on conditions. The return flight, NZ0997, is due to leave Apia at 9.25pm local time (8.25pm NZT).

Meanwhile, Oxfam New Zealand staff are on their way to Samoa today to assess if their help is needed.

Humanitarian manager Carlos Calderon, who is travelling to Samoa today, said he was relieved the country had escaped "relatively unscathed" with no loss of life reported.

"Oxfam has a deep relationship with communities in Samoa going back to 1991. Part of our work there has focused on ensuring that communities are prepared for extreme weather events. In 2012 we installed rainwater tanks, cyclone-proof shelters and latrines in coastal communities and supported cyclone debris removal from water sources on the outskirts of Apia. Our expertise is in water and sanitation, and we have equipment ready in Samoa to initiate water trucking if it's required. Oxfam will be listening to local people and organisations, taking our cues from the Samoan government."

Earlier New Zealand Metservice duty meteorologist Claire Flynn said forecast track maps showed the category three cyclone "scraped by the north of the main islands", Savai'i and Upolu, and was now heading east.

That was confirmed by Samoa Metservice director Mulipola Titimaea, who told Newstalk ZB the cyclone "wasn't as bad as expected".

The most recent update from the Samoa Meteorology Division was posted on their website at 7am (6am NZT) and said that a tropical cyclone warning category two was now cancelled for Samoa.

"Tropical cyclone warning catergory 1 remains in effect for the eastern side of Upolu."

A heavy rain warning also remained in effect, along with a flood advisory for low-lying coastal areas due to high surf, they wrote.

Cyclone Amos was about 72 kilometres east of Apia at 4am local time and based on its current forecast track it was expected to be about 150km east of Apia by 1pm local time.

It was moving east to south-east of Samoa at a speed of 28kmh.

Isolated showers were forecast, but heavy falls with thunderstorms were also possible.

East to south-east winds of 25 to 40 kilometres an hour, with gusts up to 72kmh, were expected mainly on the eastern side of Upolu. A storm surge of 4.2 to 4.8 metres was also forecast.

Radio Polynesia host Seti Afoa, who manned the station through the cyclone, posted on his Facebook page this morning that the cyclone "turned out to be a Phantom Storm"
"Cyclone Amos has gone away. It left us last night at 1am."

But the island has not escaped some damage. Photos posted online showed washed out roads and downed trees on Savai'i and flooding near Apia, on the island of Upolu. There had also been power outages in some areas.

- NZ Herald

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