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Cyclones in Vanuatu

Cyclones only occur occasionally in Vanuatu. On average, they happen about 5 times a year. The hardest hit regions are Tafea and Sanma.

The typical cyclone season depends on the summer monsoon. In the months before (May to June) and after (October to November), the most severe storms occur.

The most severe cyclone to make landfall in Vanuatu in the past 12 months was »Irene«. It reached a wind speed of up to 83 km/h on January 19, 2023 at 11:00 am local time near Isangel and was 42 kilometers in diameter at the time. According to the internationally accepted Saffir-Simpson classification, this corresponded to a tropical storm cyclone. On the open sea, speeds of up to 94 km/h were measured.

Other natural hazards in Vanuatu:
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Current cyclone: Irene

On January 18, 2023 at 5:00 pm, cyclone »Irene« formed in the South Pacific with an initial wind speed of 72 km/h. The storm system initially moved west at 19 km/h 43 km/h and reached a diameter of 148 kilometers. On January 18, 2023 at 11:00 pm, it reached its highest wind speed to date of 94 kilometers per hour. This corresponds to a tropical storm.

On January 19, 2023 at 11:00 am, Irene made landfall near the city of Isangel (Tafea) in Vanuatu. At that time, the cyclone had a wind speed of 83 km/h and a diameter of 83 kilometers.

Irene has since subsided and is no longer under observation by the authorities. Its last position was about 679 km southeast of the Fijion January 19th at 8:00 pm .

Current satellite image of the southwest Pacific Ocean

 
Move the timeline below the image to see previous shots.
05.02.2023 © CIMSS University of Wisconsin-Madison

Most violent cyclones in Vanuatu since 2018

Irene: January 18-19, 2023

Wind speed:
max. 94 km/h
on land:
max. 83 km/h
Diameter:
max. 296 km
Air pressure:
below 992 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
Affected regions
Tafea

Gina: May 18-22, 2022

Wind speed:
max. 65 km/h
Diameter:
max. 278 km
Air pressure:
below 1002 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
Affected regions
Shefa
Tafea

Fili: April 4-9, 2022

Wind speed:
max. 100 km/h
Diameter:
max. 296 km
Air pressure:
below 989 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On April 4th, 2022 at 5:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 508 km east of Luganville in Sanma.

Dovi: February 9-12, 2022

Wind speed:
max. 165 km/h
on land:
max. 65 km/h
Diameter:
max. 241 km
Air pressure:
below 956 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 2
Affected regions
Tafea

Cody: January 8-15, 2022

Wind speed:
max. 93 km/h
Diameter:
max. 333 km
Air pressure:
below 980 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On January 11th, 2022 at 5:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 447 km west of Isangel in Tafea.

Ruby: December 11-15, 2021

Wind speed:
max. 130 km/h
Diameter:
max. 185 km
Air pressure:
below 980 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 1
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On December 14th, 2021 at 5:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 335 km southeast of Isangel in Tafea.

Niran: March 1-7, 2021

Wind speed:
max. 256 km/h
Diameter:
max. 222 km
Eye:
max. 37 km
Air pressure:
below 917 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 5
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On March 6th, 2021 at 5:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 447 km southeast of Isangel in Tafea.

Lucas: January 31 to February 4, 2021

Wind speed:
max. 119 km/h
Diameter:
max. 222 km
Air pressure:
below 980 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On February 3rd, 2021 at 2:00 am it had the shortest distance at about 233 km east of Isangel in Tafea.

Bina: January 30 to February 1, 2021

Wind speed:
max. 83 km/h
Diameter:
max. 111 km
Air pressure:
below 991 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On January 31st, 2021 at 5:00 am it had the shortest distance at about 473 km northwest of Sola in Torba.

Yasa: December 12-19, 2020

Wind speed:
max. 256 km/h
Diameter:
max. 259 km
Air pressure:
below 914 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 5
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On December 14th, 2020 at 8:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 415 km northwest of Port-Vila in Shefa.

Harold: April 1-11, 2020

Wind speed:
max. 278 km/h
on land:
max. 244 km/h
Diameter:
max. 3741 km
Eye:
max. 56 km
Air pressure:
below 903 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 5
Affected regions
Sanma
Torba

Gretel: March 13-19, 2020

Wind speed:
max. 115 km/h
Diameter:
max. 370 km
Air pressure:
below 971 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On March 15th, 2020 at 11:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 559 km southeast of Isangel in Tafea.

Uesi: February 6-17, 2020

Wind speed:
max. 143 km/h
on land:
max. 139 km/h
Diameter:
max. 3741 km
Eye:
max. 37 km
Air pressure:
below 969 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 1
Affected regions
Sanma
Malampa

Tino: January 15-20, 2020

Wind speed:
max. 157 km/h
Diameter:
max. 278 km
Air pressure:
below 956 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 2
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On January 15th, 2020 at 11:00 am it had the shortest distance at about 337 km northwest of Sola in Torba.

Rita: November 22-29, 2019

Wind speed:
max. 130 km/h
Diameter:
max. 630 km
Eye:
max. 56 km
Air pressure:
below 980 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 1
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On November 27th, 2019 at 2:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 165 km northwest of Lakatoro in Malampa.

Oma: February 11-28, 2019

Wind speed:
max. 139 km/h
Diameter:
max. 3741 km
Eye:
max. 111 km
Air pressure:
below 968 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
category 1
Affected regions
Malampa
Sanma

Mona: December 31, 2018 to January 9, 2019

Wind speed:
max. 93 km/h
Diameter:
max. 222 km
Air pressure:
below 985 mbar
Saffir-Simpson scale:
tropical storm
The cyclone did not make direct landfall. On January 1st, 2019 at 2:00 pm it had the shortest distance at about 571 km north of Sola in Torba.


These evaluations are based on data from the National Centers for Environmental Information of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Individual data have been summarized or translated.
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