Category 2 Tropical Cyclone “Lucas” affecting Vanuatu and New Caledonia


Tropical Cyclone "Lucas" formed over the Coral Sea on February 1, 2021, as the 5th named storm of the 2020/21 South Pacific Ocean cyclone season. The storm moved into the basin from the Australian region as a Category 2 tropical cyclone, to the northwest of Port Vila in Vanuatu.

The storm is forecast to continue moving southeast over the Coral Sea, passing approximately 300 km (185 miles) west of Vanuatu Islands on February 2 and 3 and possibly make landfall over New Caledonia on February 3.

Heavy rains are already falling over most parts of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and are forecast to continue over the next 48 hours, accompanied by strong winds and storm surge.

Image credit: JTWC

On February 1, the Vanuatu Meteorological Services have issued a tropical cyclone advisory and a severe weather warning for heavy rainfall for the central and southern islands of Vanuatu.

Weather warnings could remain active even after the system's immediate threat has diminished, as some areas may still be highly susceptible to rain-induced hazards. Localized evacuations are possible if weather conditions prove particularly hazardous.

Lucas will likely bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and rough seas to coastal areas in New Caledonia and Vanuatu over the next 2 days.

Isolated heavy rainfalls with flash flooding are expected over low-lying areas and areas close to river banks, including coastal flooding over the Vanuatu group.

Seas will remain rough to very rough over all coastal waters with heavy swells expected.

People throughout Vanuatu are advised to take extra precautions.

Tropical Cyclone "Lucas" at 05:50 UTC on February 2, 2021. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, TW

Tropical Cyclone "Lucas" at 05:50 UTC on February 2, 2021. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, TW

Severe Weather Warning for heavy rainfalls and strong inland winds remain in effect for the Vanuatu group. Marine strong wind warning is also current for all coastal waters of Vanuatu.

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) advises that YELLOW ALERT is in effect for SHEFA and TAFEA provinces, while BLUE ALERT is in effect for MALAMPA province.

At 06:00 UTC on February 2, the center of Category 2 Tropical Cyclone "Lucas" was located about 235 km (145 miles) WSW of Efate. Winds close to the center of the system are estimated at 110 km/h (70 mph).

Minimum central pressure was estimated at 984 hPa.

Damaging gale force winds of 75 km/h (45 mph) gusting to 150 km/h (95 mph) within 170 km (100 miles) from the center are expected within 12 to 24 hours.

Destructive storm force winds of 110 km/h (70 mph) increasing to 160 km/h (55 mph) are expected within 22 km/h (35 mph).

Image credit: RSMC Nadi

In New Caledonia, level 2 hurricane alert was issued on February 1 for the communities of Ouvea, Lifou and Mare. Level 1 hurricane remains in place for Poum, Ouégoa, Pouebo, Hienghène, Touho, Pondimié, Ponérihouen, Houailou, Kouaoua, Canala, Thio and Yaté.

On February 2, the alert was issued for Ile des Pins, Mont-Dore, Nouméa, Dumbéa, Païta, Boulouparis, La Foa, Farino, Sarraméa, Moindou, Bourail and Poya. The cyclonic pre-warning is maintained over the rest of New Caledonia.

Lucas is accompanied by heavy rains in its path, Meteo France New Caledonia forecasters warned.

In the Loyalty Islands and the south of Grande Terre, the rains expected by Wednesday evening, February 3 are of the order of 200 mm (7.8 inches), locally 300 mm (11.8 inches) on the southern relief and the Loyalty Islands.

In the northern half, the rains will be moderate to strong from North to South, we expect 50 to 120 mm (2 to 5 inches) by Wednesday evening (LT).

The far north remains away from heavy rains.

The sea will become dangerous on the coast from this evening, February 2. 

On the Loyalty Islands and the East Coast, waves up to 4 m (13 feet) are expected, or even 6 to 8 m (20 to 26 feet) in the Loyalty Islands at the end of the night.

On the South Point and the Ile des Pins, the waves could reach 4 to 6 m (13 – 20 feet) the next night, or even 6 to 8 m (20 to 26 feet) Wednesday during the day.

On the west coast, the waves are expected to reach 3 to 4 m (10 to 13 feet) on Wednesday.

The extent of the degradation of the weather on the territory remains largely dependent on the speed of movement and the final intensity of the phenomenon.

Meteorologists are urging residents to keep themselves regularly informed.

Forecast models

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Lucas" at 05:50 UTC on February 2, 2021. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA, TW


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