List of Category 5 South Pacific severe tropical cyclones

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Winston at record peak intensity near Fiji on 20 February 2016

Category 5 South Pacific severe tropical cyclones are tropical cyclones that reach Category 5 intensity on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale within the South Pacific basin. They are by definition the strongest tropical cyclones that can form on Earth. A total of 21 tropical cyclones have peaked at Category 5 strength in the South Pacific tropical cyclone basin, which is denoted as the part of the Pacific Ocean to the south of the equator and to the east of 160°E. 19 of these tropical cyclones have been classified as Category 5 on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, while Severe Tropical Cyclone Anne was estimated to be equivalent to a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.

The earliest tropical cyclone to be classified as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone was Pam which was classified as a Category 5 between February 3 – 5, 1974, as it moved through the Coral Sea. The latest system to be classified as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone was Cyclone Yasa, which was classified on December 15, 2020, before it made landfall on Fiji.

Background[edit]

The South Pacific tropical cyclone basin is located to the south of the Equator between 160°E and 120°W.[1] The basin is officially monitored by the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) and the New Zealand MetService, while other meteorological services such as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Meteo France (MF) as well as the United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also monitor the basin.[1] Within the basin, a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone is a tropical cyclone that has 10-minute maximum sustained wind speeds over 107 knots (198 km/h; 123 mph) or greater on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale.[1][2] A named storm could also be classified as a Category 5 tropical cyclone if it is estimated, to have 1-minute mean maximum sustained wind speeds over 137 knots (254 km/h; 158 mph) on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.[1][3] Within the basin this scale is only officially used in American Samoa, however, systems are commonly compared to the SSHWS using 1-minute sustained windspeeds from the United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center.[1][4][5] On both scales, a Category 5 tropical cyclone is expected to cause widespread devastation, if it significantly impacts land at or near its peak intensity.[2][3] There is not enough evidence available to make definitive conclusions about how climate change is impacting Category 5 severe tropical cyclones, however, tropical cyclones are generally expected to become stronger and more frequent in the future.[6]

Systems[edit]

Name System dates Duration as a Category 5 Sustained
wind speeds
Pressure Land areas affected Damage
(USD)
Deaths Refs
Pam January 30 – February 8, 1974 1 day 12 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 920 hPa (27.17 inHg) Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu
New Caledonia, Queensland
Significant Unknown [7][8]
Hina March 10 – 20, 1985 1 day 12 hours 220 km/h (140 mph) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji >$3 million 1 [9][10][11]
Fran March 4 – 17, 1992 18 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 920 hPa (27.17 inHg) Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Eastern Australia [12]
Ron January 1 – 9, 1998 2 days 6 hours 230 km/h (145 mph) 900 hPa (26.58 inHg) Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, Tonga None [13][14]
Susan December 20, 1997 – January 10, 1998 3 days 230 km/h (145 mph) 900 hPa (26.58 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji $100 thousand 1 [14][15][16]
Zoe December 27 – 29, 2002 2 days 240 km/h (150 mph) 890 hPa (26.28 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji Severe None [17]
Beni January 29, 2003 12 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 920 hPa (27.17 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu
New Caledonia, Australia
$1 million 1 [18]
Dovi February 8 – 9, 2003 18 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 920 hPa (27.17 inHg) Niue, Cook Islands Minimal None [19][20]
Erica March 12 – 14, 2003 18 hours 215 km/h (135 mph) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Queensland, Solomon Islands
Vanuatu, New Caledonia
$15 million 2 [21]
Heta January 5 – 6, 2004 1 day 12 hours 215 km/h (130 mph) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Samoan Islands, Niue, Tonga
Wallis and Futuna
$225 million 3 [22][23][24][25][26]
Meena February 1 – 11, 2005 18 hours 215 km/h (130 mph) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Cook Islands $20 million None [27]
Olaf February 6 – 7, 2005 12 hours 215 km/h (130 mph) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Samoan Islands, Cook Islands $10 million None [28]
Percy March 1 – 3, 2005 1 day 12 hours 230 km/h (145 mph) 900 hPa (26.58 inHg) Tokelau, Samoan Islands, Cook Islands $25 million None [29]
Ului March 14, 2010 18 hours 215 km/h (130 mph) 915 hPa (27.02 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu Unknown 1 [30][31]
Ian January 11, 2014 18 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 930 hPa (27.46 inHg) Fiji, Tonga $48 million 1 [32][33]
Pam March 12 – 14, 2015 2 days 12 hours 250 km/h (155 mph) 896 hPa (26.46 inHg) Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu
Vanuatu, New Caledonia, New Zealand
$360 million 16 [34]
Winston February 18 – 21, 2016 2 days 18 hours 280 km/h (175 mph) 884 hPa (26.10 inHg) Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Niue $1.4 billion 44 [35][36]
Donna May 8, 2017 18 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 937 hPa (27.67 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji
New Caledonia, New Zealand
$10 million 2 [37][38]
Gita February 13 – 14, 2018 11 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 927 hPa (27.37 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Niue
Wallis and Futuna, Samoan Islands, Tonga
$221 million 2 [38][39]
Harold April 5 – 7, 2020 1 day 12 hours 230 km/h (145 mph) 920 hPa (27.17 inHg) Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga Significant 29 [40][41]
Yasa December 11 – 19, 2020 1 day 18 hours 250 km/h (155 mph) 899 hPa (26.55 inHg) Fiji, Tonga [42]
Niran February 25 – Present 18 hours 205 km/h (125 mph) 931 hPa (27.49 inHg) Queensland, New Caledonia

Other systems[edit]

In addition to the tropical cyclones listed above Severe Tropical Cyclone's: Harry, Rewa and Yasi, were considered by the BoM to be category 5 severe tropical cyclone's within the South Pacific Ocean, after they had moved into the Australian region.[43][44][45] The BoM also considered Severe Tropical Cyclone Theodore to have been a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone, within the Australian region before it moved into the basin during February 24, 1994.[46] Severe Tropical Cyclone Anne was estimated to have peaked by the JTWC, with one-minute sustained wind speeds of 260 km/h (160 mph) for six hours during January 11, 1988.[47] This made it equivalent to a Category 5 tropical cyclone on the SSHWS, however, the FMS estimated that the system had peaked with 10-minute sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) based on the Dvorak technique, which made it a Category 4 severe tropical cyclone on the Australian scale.[47][48]

During 2017, a study into Category 4 and 5 tropical cyclones over the South Pacific during the 1980s, was published within the Royal Meteorological Society's International Journal of Climatology.[4] This showed that the intensity of such tropical cyclones had been underestimated by the various warning centres during the decade.[4] In particular, the authors estimated that Severe Tropical Cyclone's Oscar and Nisha-Orama had 1-minute sustained winds of 285 km/h (180 mph), which would make them Category 5 tropical cyclone's on the SSHWS.[4]

Land interaction[edit]

Off the 20 Category 5 severe tropical cyclones listed above, only Severe Tropical Cyclones: Fran, Beni, Erica, Ului, Pam, Winston, Harold and Yasa are considered to have made landfall on a Pacific nation. Severe Tropical Cyclone's Pam, Winston, Harold and Yasa are the only systems to have made landfall while at Category 5 intensity and were considered to have caused widespread devastation to Fiji and Vanuatu.[citation needed] Erica directly impacted New Caledonia as a Category 5 severe tropical cyclone, however, it had markedly weakened, before it made landfall on New Caledonia's main island.[49][50]

Severe Tropical Cyclone's Fran, Beni and Ului all made landfall on Queensland, Australia. In addition to these six systems making landfall, several systems have either threatened or passed very near to various smaller islands at their peak intensity. In particular, Fran passed in between the islands of Efate and Erromango in Vanuatu during March 9, 1992 while Susan threatened Vanuatu during January 5, 1998, but recurved in time to spare the island nation a direct hit.[51][14] At around 18:00 UTC on January 6, 1998, Severe Tropical Cyclone Ron passed within 10 km (5 mi) of the Tongan island of Niuafo'ou.[14] Severe Tropical Cyclone Zoe passed near or over several of the Solomon Islands within Temotu Province during December 2002.[5]

Climatology[edit]

Category 5 severe tropical cyclones by month
Month Number of storms
January
5
February
6
March
7
April
1
May
1
November
0
December
2
Category 5 severe tropical cyclones
Period Number of storms
1970s
1
1980s
1
1990s
3
2000s
8
2010s
6
2020s
3

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e RA V Tropical Cyclone Committee (October 8, 2020). Tropical Cyclone Operational Plan for the South-East Indian Ocean and the Southern Pacific Ocean 2020 (PDF) (Report). World Meteorological Organization. pp. I-4–II-9 (9–21). Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b 2017/2018 Tropical Cyclone Season Summary of Alerts and Warnings Procedures for Fiji (PDF) (Report). Fiji Meteorological Service. October 23, 2017. pp. 3 & 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 25, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Schott, Timothy; Landsea, Christopher; Hafele, Gene; Lorens, Jeffrey; Taylor, Arthur; Thrum, Harvey; Ward, Bill; Willis, Mark; Zaleski, Walt (January 2, 2019). The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (PDF) (Report). United States National Hurricane Center. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Hoarau, Karl; Chalonge, Ludovic; Pirard, Florence; Peyrusaubes, Daniel (March 2018). "Extreme tropical cyclone activities in the southern Pacific Ocean". International Journal of Climatology. 38 (3): 1409–1420. doi:10.1002/joc.5254.
  5. ^ a b Masters, Jeff; Henson, Bob (February 19, 2016). "Fiji Pounded by its First Category 5 Storm on Record: Tropical Cyclone Winston". Weather Underground.
  6. ^ Masters, Jeff; Henson, Bob (December 17, 2020). "Tropical Cyclone Yasa makes landfall in Fiji with 145 mph winds". Yale Climate Connections.
  7. ^ "1974 Tropical Cyclone PAM (1974030S15182)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  8. ^ 1973-1974 dans le pacifique sud-ouest. MetMar (Report). 1976. p. 51. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  9. ^ "1985 Tropical Cyclone Hina (1985070S17175)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  10. ^ Ready, S.C. (April 9, 1985). Tropical Cyclone Hina: Preliminary Report (Report). Fiji Meteorological Service.
  11. ^ http://www.ndmo.gov.fj/images/AllDisasterReports/summary_of_disasters_1985-2016.pdf
  12. ^ "1992 Tropical Cyclone Fran (1992064S10184)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  13. ^ "1998 Tropical Cyclone Ron (1998001S09195)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d RSMC Nadi Tropical Cyclone Seasonal Summary 1997-98 (PDF) (Report). Fiji Meteorological Service. August 29, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 1, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  15. ^ "1997 Tropical Cyclone SUSAN (1997355S05189)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  16. ^ Preliminary Report on Tropical Cyclone Susan — January 3 - 9, 1998 (PDF) (Report). Fiji Meteorological Service. January 20, 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 14, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  17. ^ "2002 Tropical Cyclone Zoe (2002358S08185)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  18. ^ "2002 Tropical Cyclone Beni (2003021S10163)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  19. ^ "2003 Tropical Cyclone Dovi (2003036S10197)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  20. ^ Padgett, Gary. Monthly Global Tropical Cyclone Summary February 2003 (Report). Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  21. ^ "2003 Tropical Cyclone Erica (2003061S21148)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  22. ^ Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. "EM-DAT: The Emergency Events Database". Université catholique de Louvain.
  23. ^ "2003 Tropical Cyclone Heta (2003359S15177)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  24. ^ McKenzie, Emily; Prasad, Binman; Kaloumaira, Atu (2005). "Economic Impact of Natural Disasters on development in the Pacific Volume 1: Research Report" (PDF). South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. pp. 10–89. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 25, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
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  26. ^ Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena January 2004 (Report). United States National Climatic Data Center. 2004. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 31, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  27. ^ "2005 Tropical Cyclone Meena (2005032S14195)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  28. ^ "2005 Tropical Cyclone Olaf (2005041S13181)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  29. ^ "2005 Tropical Cyclone Percy (2005054S09173)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  30. ^ "2010 Tropical Cyclone Ului (2010070S15168)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  31. ^ http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/ului.shtml
  32. ^ "2014 Tropical Cyclone Ian (2014004S17183)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  33. ^ https://www.webcitation.org/6b4iwK2Wo?url=http://www.met.gov.fj/Summary2.pdf
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  35. ^ "2016 Tropical Cyclone Winston (2016041S14170)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
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  39. ^ "2018 Tropical Cyclone Gita (2018038S15172)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
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  44. ^ "1993 Severe Tropical Cyclone Rewa (1993360S04171)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  45. ^ "2011 Severe Tropical Cyclone YASI (2011028S13180)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  46. ^ "1994 Severe Tropical Cyclone Theodore (1994053S08155)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  47. ^ a b "1988 Tropical Cyclone ANNE (1988006S05182)". International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  48. ^ Kishore, Satya (April 25, 1988). Tropical Cyclone Report 88/1, Tropical Cyclone Anne (Report). Fiji Meteorological Service.
  49. ^ Hall, Jonty C; Callaghan, Jeff (April 12, 2003). "Tropical Cyclone Zoe — the most intense Tropical Cyclone observed in the Australia/South Pacific region?". Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. 16 (April 2003): 31–36. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012.
  50. ^ Padgett, Gary. Monthly Global Tropical Cyclone Summary March 2003 (Report). Archived from the original on January 24, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  51. ^ Tropical cyclones in Vanuatu: 1847 to 1994 (Report). Vanuatu Meteorological Service. May 19, 1994. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 18, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2015.

External links[edit]