As feared, Category 5 Cyclone Pam is tearing through the capital of the tiny nation of Vanuatu, a country of about 250,000 people located about 1,200 miles east of Brisbane, Australia.
The storm that was supposed to remain offshore, according to forecasts from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, instead veered to the west and into the capital city of Port Vila, a coastal community of more than 50,000 people.
A “red alert” has been issued for all of Vanuatu as the storm, which contains wind gusts close to 200 miles per hour, tears across the capital.
— Josh Morgerman (@iCyclone) March 13, 2015
Severe storm surge flooding will occur in vulnerable coastal areas, including parts of Port Vila, and extensive, potentially even catastrophic, wind damage may occur close to the storm’s eye as well. Also, heavy rains may cause flash flooding and landslides in elevated terrain.
A recent report on natural disaster vulnerability found that Port Vila is the most exposed city to natural disasters of any of the 1,300 cities studied. The Natural Hazards Risk Atlas, published by the British analytics company Verisk Maplecroft, found that Port Vila is at risk for earthquakes, tsunamis and tropical cyclones.
— Beverley O’Connor (@bevvo14) March 13, 2015
— Jen Ryall (@jennijenni) March 13, 2015
This story is developing…