Tropical cylone Pam hits Vanuatu

Tropical cyclone Pam hits Vanuatu

09 March 2015 00:32 UTC–15 March 18:32 UTC

Tropical cylone Pam hits Vanuatu
Tropical cylone Pam hits Vanuatu

Pam was a category 5 tropical cyclone when it hit the Vanuatu islands in the South Pacific, causing devastating damage.

Last Updated

22 October 2020

Published on

08 March 2015

The category five storm, with winds of 265 km/h (165mph), struck populated areas when it reached Vanuatu early on Saturday. It left a trail of destruction across the island and at least eight people dead.

The MTSAT-2 infrared animation , 9 March 00:32 UTC–15 March 18:32 UTC, shows the cyclone's journey over the six days. On 9/10 March it can be seen as it formed north of 20° S, before making its southward trajectory. During the night of 13/14 March it passed just east of Vanuatu and the eye 'grazed' Port Vila on 13 March 12:32 UTC (13 March 21:32 local time). After hitting Vanuatu the cyclone took an accelerated southward track towards New Zealand, where it dissolved on 15/16 March.

On the MTSAT-2 image from 12 March 21:40 UTC (Figure 1) complex structures of gravity waves and radial banding can be seen around the eye. On the MTSAT-2 image with the ASCAT coastal winds overlaid (Figure 2), sustained southerly winds of at least 30–40 kts, or 55–75 km/h can be seen, as the cyclone headed towards Vanuatu.

Image comparison

Figure 2: MTSAT-2 image with ASCAT coastal winds overlaid compare1

Comparison of MTSAT-2 imagery with and without ASCAT coastal winds

The ASCAT data shows sustained winds were at least 60 kts or 110 km/h from 12 to 14 March — 60 kts is the saturation value of ASCAT. These wind speeds are also indicated on the similar MTSAT-2 with ASCAT winds imagery from 13 and 14 March (Figure 3 and 4).

 MTSAT-2, 13 March 21:30 UTC
Figure 3: MTSAT-2, 13 March 21:30 UTC
 MTSAT-2, 14 March 21:10 UTC
Figure 4: MTSAT-2, 14 March 21:10 UTC
Visible with ASCAT coastal winds overlaid

Related Content

Relief teams report devastation, death after Vanuatu cyclone (Reuters)
Cyclone Pam's aftermath in Vanuatu — in pictures (The Guardian)
DWD report on the cyclone (in German)

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