Severe Tropical Cyclone Hola (12P)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Hola has impacted Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and New Zealand between March 7 and March 12. Significant damage to houses is reported in Vanuatu and businesses, airports, and schools experienced interruptions and closures in other affected regions. Hola did not affect land with winds greater than a Category 1 hurricane on the SSHWS, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). However, the storm briefly reached Category 4 on Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale (equivalent to a Category 4 major hurricane on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, SSHWS) and is therefore classified as a Severe Tropical Cyclone. Hola has now transitioned to an extratropical cylone and is not forecasted to further impact land after its bypass of New Zealand. VANUATU. Hola passed over the central Vanuatu archipelago on Wednesday March 7, after rapidly intensifying from a tropical low to a Category 2 storm on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, equivalent to a strong tropical storm/weak Category 1 hurricane on the SSHWS, according to both the FMS and the JTWC. There are reports of damaged houses on Vanuatu’s Pentecost, Malekula, and Ambrym islands, and damage to telecommunications. A full damage survey is expected to take some time as more remote islands and communities are contacted. Significant crop damage is reported in the media. The island of Ambae, in the north of the archipelago, reported 13 in (330 mm) of rain in three days. One person was killed by the storm. NEW CALEDONIA. Hola bypassed New Caledonia as a Category 2/3 cyclone on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale without making landfall. The storm’s maximum winds were away from the mainland, but the outlying Loyalty Islands may still have been affected by winds equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane on the SSHWS, according to both the FMS and the JTWC. Initial reports from the civil security service and NGOs suggest that damage is minimal. Schools and businesses in the Loyalty Islands were closed for the storm’s bypass. The New Caledonia mainland avoided strong winds, but some areas saw 7.9 in (200 mm) of rainfall as the storm passed. NEW ZEALAND. Hola had transitioned into an extratropical cyclone by the time it bypassed New Zealand on Monday March 12, bringing strong winds, coastal swell, and rainfall. There are currently no reports of damage.

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