Cyclone Paula  28 Feb - 01 March 2001


Satellite image courtesy of: NOAA


Corresponding satellite images for the above warnings


The above two graphics  show the slight change of course of Cyclone Paula's track in the hours preceeding landfall on Efate Island that spared Port Vila a direct hit.
These are the original updates as posted during Cyclone Paula:
28 Feb 0525z (+11hrs for Vanuatu local time)
I have arrived at Port Vila after one of the most hair raising landings I have experienced.
Our first attempt at landing was aborted metres from touchdown and we spent the next 30 minutes circling in turbulance waiting for a clear shot at actually seeing the land at all. The sea below us was a wild mass of churning water and huge waves.PHOTO FROM PLANE WINDOW
We successfully landed on our second attempt to the loud cheering of every one on the plane.
We had to run in from the runway and everyone was drenched in seconds by torrential horizontal rain.PHOTO AT VILA AIRPORT    Port Vila is almost completely boarded up and Paula is intensifying. There will be power and communication outages so this will probably be the only report from Cyclone Paula.
If the JTWC prediction is right Port Vila will get an almost direct hit with very destructive winds gusting to 220kph in 6 hours from now (this will be about midnight,local time) I repeat, if this occurs there may be no communications from here at all for days, Geoff .....
28 Feb 1300z (+11hrs for Vanuatu local time)
Cyclone Paula is currently over or near Efate Island and for several hours now the wind speed is blowing at what I estimate to be around 150kph  with a period of stronger gusts at about 2230hrs, local time. It is 0030 now and the wind has not diminished and is blowing from the north.
Judging from the type of damage I am seeing it is consistant with a CAT 1 cyclone damage, however, this is a strong CAT 2 storm and is still intensifying.  The cyclone centre is currently passing off the east coast of Efate Island, on the other side of the island the wind strength will be higher, that road is impassable. Radio reports are carrying stories of communication difficulties on the islands of Malakula and Santo that were hit by Paula earlier in the evening including unconfirmed reports of missing person/s and a boat sinking. From driving around Port Vila for the last 3 hours a lot of tree damage is evident with some roads blocked by fallen trees, including the road to the airport. Little has been observed in the way of building or property damage yet although it is midnight here at present and visibility is limited, power is off in parts of Port Vila.. flooding is also starting to affect some areas.
01 March 0830z (+11hrs for Vanuatu local time)
A tour of port Vila this morning reveals little damage to buildings in Port Vila although I saw 5 boats that had run aground or sunk in Port Vila harbour. The local weather station in Vila recorded a sustained  wind speed of 85 knots, (160kph) at the height of TC Paula.
A ship anchored in the harbour recorded a pressure of 984hpa on their barometer between 2200 and 2300hrs, local time

The eye of Cyclone Paula appears to have passed 30 to 50 kilometres to the east of Port Vila  during the night sparing the town the more destructive winds that would have been closer to the eye wall. However, according to  Prescilla Molisa , from the Vanuatu Disaster Management Comittee, who I met on a tour of the worst affected areas, says that in rural areas where the housing is poor there has been considerable damage to basic housing,
and although these can usually be rebuilt relitavely quickly it is the extensive damage to root crops , paw paws etc that will probably cause serious food shortages in the coming weeks and may also prompt calls for aid from Australia and New Zealand.
Little is known yet about the damage done by the cyclone on other islands especially those in the Shepherd group that would have taken a direct hit from Cyclone Paula. Cyclone Paula is still intensifying and moving south - east as shown by the latest chart from the JTWC.
No other significant Pacific islands appear to be in it's path at the moment.
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