Vanuatu’s Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) has issued severe weather warnings for multiple provinces on Tuesday, November 26, as Tropical Cyclone Rita continues moving towards the region. As of Tuesday morning (local time), Torba province remains under red alert (the highest level) while Penama and Sanma provinces are under yellow alert. Heavy rainfall is expected over the next 24 hours, which may cause flash flooding in low-lying and coastal areas and along riverbanks. Damaging winds are also possible in the abovementioned provinces, and along all of Vanuatu’s coastal waters. Very rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells are forecast in waters north of Vanuatu and individuals are being warned to avoid going out to sea until the system moves out of the area. Flooding, power outages, and landslides are possible in Torba, Penama, and Sanma as the cyclone approaches the islands. Associated business and transportation disruptions are also expected.
As of 09:09 on Tuesday, Tropical Cyclone Rita is a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 95 kph (59 mph) and gusts up to 130 kph (81 mph). Rita is located at approximately at 13.7°S 169.8°E (map here) and moving west-southwest at 11 kph (7 mph). The storm weakened overnight, but officials are warning that it may strengthen again over the coming hours and days.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, confirm flight reservations, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, anticipate adverse weather and power and transportation disruptions, and remember that running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) is enough to knock over an adult - and never drive through flooded streets; floodwater may also contain wastewater and chemical products.