Vanuatu, New Caledonia - Tropical Cyclone 12P

7 Mar 2018

Tropical Cyclone 12P formed in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Vanuatu, late March 6. As of 0230 VUT March 7, the system's center of circulation was approximately 190 km (118 miles) north-northeast of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Forecast models indicate that the system should remain a weak cyclone as it crosses Malampa Province through the day March 7. Although a significant amount of uncertainty exists past 24 hours, most models indicate that the tropical cyclone will turn south- and southeastward, gradually intensifying as it passes between Vanuatu's Tafea Province and New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands. The cyclone's path and intensity forecasts could change in the coming days. 

Regardless of the path of the storm, the cyclone will bring heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts to much of central and northern Vanuatu. The highest rainfall totals of over 15 cm (6 inches) are expected in Malampa, Penama, and Shefa provinces through March 9. Flash flooding is possible in low-lying areas along watercourses and near the coast; rough seas are likely, and storm surge could occur along eastern facing shorelines through March 7. Winds gusting over 80 kph (50 mph) could lead to property damage and power outages. The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department has issued a tropical cyclone warning for Malampa, Penama, and Shefa provinces; strong wind and high seas warnings have also been issued for coastal waters of Vanuatu. In New Caledonia, the heaviest rainfall and strongest winds will primarily occur in the Loyalty Islands, if the cyclone follows the current track forecast. Any deviations could bring increased impacts to the mainland of New Caledonia. 

The cyclone is likely to cause some transport and commercial disruptions in the region through March 10. Coastal and flash flooding could cause road closures; landslides are possible, which could block some high elevation routes for an extended period. Flight disruptions are likely at airports in central Vanuatu, including Port Vila's Bauerfield International Airport (VLI). Port restrictions are possible; operations out of Port Vila could be disrupted as the storm passes through March 10. Authorities might also suspend inter-island ferry services. 

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