The eye of Category 5 Cyclone Pam hovers over the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, 13 March 2015. Graphic: EarthWindMap /

By Brandon Miller, Madison Park, and Laura Smith-Spark
13 March 2015

(CNN) – Tropical Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest storms seen in the South Pacific in years, has made a direct hit on the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila.

Satellite imagery shows the eye of the massive Category 5 storm making landfall on a small island in central Vanuatu.

The capital, the largest city in the Vanuatu island chain, sits on the coastline, which is vulnerable to storm surges during powerful cyclones.

Tropical Cyclone Pam is the strongest storm to make landfall since the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013.

Pam currently has sustained winds of 165 mph (270 kilometers per hour) with gusts of up to 200 mph (325 kilometers per hour), triggering concerns of torrential rainfall, flooding and landslides.

Communications appear to be down, with power likely to be out across a large area.

    Before the storm hit, the Vanuatu Meteorological Services warned of "very destructive winds and very rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells."

    Photographer Michael McLennan -- who said the storm is being called the "Vanuatu Monster" -- told CNN that the "strength of winds is incredible." […]

    The U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, said it was preparing for the worst.

    "We simply don't know what we are going to be looking at tomorrow morning," spokeswoman Alice Clements told CNN, speaking from Vanuatu. "This point of the storm feels incredibly strong."

    Clements said it was reminiscent of what she felt during Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

    "To that end, I'm incredibly worried about the amount of damage to shelters, the impact on life and casualties," she said. "Schools will probably be damaged or destroyed, health centers will undoubtedly be flooded or damaged.

    "This country is going to need some serious assistance from the international community because the storm is wreaking an awful lot of damage right now."

    Parts of Vanuatu will likely see floods exceeding 16 inches, according to forecasts. [more]

    Tropical Cyclone Pam becomes Category 5 storm, slams Vanuatu capital

    13 March 2015 (Sky News) – A "once-in-a-lifetime" storm is bearing down on the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu - threatening more than 260,000 people in its path.

    The Category Five storm Cyclone Pam, which has maximum winds of 143 mph, is expected to graze the country late on Friday (local time).

    Authorities have issued red alerts across the country's 83 tiny islands, with residents warned to take shelter ahead of potential flooding and landslides.

    David Gibson, acting director at the Vanuatu Meteorological Services, said: "As far as I can remember, this is the first Category Five cyclone to come very close to Vanuatu.

    "This is obviously a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us.

    "We are expecting storm-force winds, including hurricane-force winds, particularly to the central and southern islands."

    The Vanuatu Meteorological Services warned of "very destructive winds and very rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells".

    Forecasters predict winds will reach 115mph on the islands.

    Many Vanuatuans live in accommodation ill-equipped for such a barrage. [more]

    Vanuatu In Path Of 'Phenomenal' Cyclone Pam



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