PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

Pacific Islands Development Program/Center for Pacific Islands Studies

COOK ISLANDS FACE POSSIBILITY OF WORST CYCLONE
SEASON IN YEARS

AVARUA, Cook Islands (October 8, 1997 - Radio Australia)---Weather forecasters in the Cook Islands say the country can expect its worst cyclone season in years.

The Meteorological Office and the National Disasters Committee have urged citizens to begin preparing now for the cyclone season, which starts next month.

Cyclones usually form in the Western Pacific --near the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu-- and weaken substantially by the time they reach the Cook Islands, which is east of the International Date Line. But warmer sea temperatures linked to El Nino mean cyclones are more likely to form in the Eastern Pacific this year.

The El Nino effect also could cause serious water shortages in the Southern Cook Islands, govrnment officials say, and residents already are being urged to build water storage tanks and, in general, to conserve water supplies.