Cat 4 Tropical Cyclone Oli Strikes French Polynesia; RMS Analysis

February 4, 2010

At Noon local time the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), estimated that Tropical Storm Oli’s maximum sustained winds had reached approximately 130 mph (210 km/h), which would classify it as a category four hurricane.

A report from Risk Management Solutions ( put the storm’s center in the South Pacific Ocean, at approximately 150 miles (240 kms) south-southwest of Bora Bora and 200 miles (310 kms) west–southwest of Tahiti, French Polynesia.

French television showed by now all too familiar pictures of towering waves – above 7 meters (22 feet) – breaking over large stretches of the islands. Palm trees were bent nearly to the ground and detached roofs were flying through the air. So far no deaths or serious injuries have been reported, but given the strength of the storm, they are likely to occur.

“Over the past six hours Oli has tracked towards the south-southeast with a forward speed of approximately 10mph (16km /h),” RMS reported. “The storm has brought strong winds, torrential rainfall and waves several meters in height to the Cook Islands, Bora Bora and Tahiti. More than 650 tourists trapped on Bora Bora have been relocated in other hotels. Schools in western Polynesia have been closed and people have been told to abandon primitive grass and mud dwellings and head to solid buildings such as town halls, schools or churches.”

Reports of damages are now coming in, but sporadically. A number of buildings on Tahiti have been destroyed and many areas of the island are without power. Local authorities are in the process of evacuating low lying residents, following flooding initiated by the storm.

RMS said Oli is “currently forecast to continue tracking towards the south-southeast over the next 12-24 hours. During which time it is expected to encounter low vertical wind shear and warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs, above 26 degrees Celsius). This environmental combination is favorable for further intensification.” However it is expected to weaken within 24 to 48 hours.

Source: News reports and Risk Management Solutions

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