Tropical Cyclones

Of the extreme events in the Southwest Pacific, tropical cyclones are particularly significant (Krishna et al. 2001). Tropical cyclone Ofa caused an estimated USS120 million damages in Samoa in 1990 (or about 25% of its GDP) while tropical cyclone Val caused damages of about USS200 millions or 45% of its GDP in 1991. ttese two cyclones alone set back the development of Samoa by at least twenty years. In Fiji, tropical cyclone Kina in 1993 caused an estimated USS120 million damages, about 2.4% of Fiji's GDP. tte damage caused by tropical cyclone Heta in January 2004, a category 5 tropical cyclone, is only now being assessed. Property, crops, roads and bridges were destroyed or damaged on Samoa with losses equivalent to USS226 million on American Samoa with roads washed away, and other damage to property and infrastructure. In the Cook Islands, 6 metre swells affected the west coast of Rarotonga. However, Heta devastated the tiny island nation of Niue (population 1200). One person died, much property was damaged or destroyed, roads were destroyed, infrastructure cut and crops destroyed because of intense rainfall and high winds (last recorded speed of 150 km/h and gusts to 200 km/h before equipment failure).

In Australia, tropical cyclones can also have severe impacts on cropping. In March 2006 Tropical Cyclone Larry tracked into Queensland at Innisfail, with winds of up to 290 km/h1 (180 mph), the category five storm destroyed sugar and banana crops. Sugar cane and banana crops were severely impacts with an estimated 80% of the banana crops destroyed, ttis area produces 25% of the sugar crop.

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