The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclones affecting the area.
While tropical cyclones in the South Pacific may occur throughout the year, the current South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season begins on November 1, 2015, and ends April 30, 2016. U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as needed. This Travel Alert expires on April 30, 2016.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends that people living or traveling in regions prone to tropical storms and tropical cyclones be prepared. For further information about tropical cyclone preparedness, please visit NOAA’s Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide.
Tropical cyclones can create dangerous and uncomfortable conditions that can prevent travel for days. Tropical cyclones are often accompanied by damaging winds, high tides and flooding. If you are living near or staying close to the ocean or other bodies of water, you may be at higher risk. Landslides and mudslides are also a serious concern. Roads can be washed out or obstructed by debris, adversely affecting access to airports and land routes out of affected areas. In the past, many U.S. citizens were forced to delay travel (including return travel to the United States) due to infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability. You should be aware that you may not be able to depart the area for 24-48 hours or longer, particularly if you are residing in or visiting a South Pacific island country where air travel service is limited.
Be sure to check with local authorities for safety and security updates. Reports of looting and sporadic violence in the aftermath of natural disasters have occurred. Security personnel and medical services may not always be readily available, as weather conditions or damage to infrastructure may delay or prevent emergency assistance.
If you live in or travel to these areas during the tropical cyclone season, we recommend you obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency. If a situation requires an evacuation from an overseas location, the U.S. Department of State may work with commercial airlines to ensure that U.S. citizens can depart as safely and efficiently as possible. Commercial airlines are the Department’s primary source of transportation in an evacuation; other means of transport are utilized only as a last resort, are often more expensive, and will provide you with fewer destination options. U.S. law requires that any evacuation costs are your responsibility. For those in financial need, the U.S. Department of State has the authority to provide crisis evacuation and repatriation loans on a reimbursable basis. For more information, please visit the Emergencies Abroad page on our website.
If you live in or are traveling to storm-prone regions, prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms by organizing a kit in a waterproof container that includes a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, any medications taken regularly, and vital documents (especially your passport and other identification). Emergency shelters often provide only very basic resources and may have limited medical and food supplies. NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have additional tips on their websites.
Monitor local radio, local media, and the National Weather Service to be aware of weather developments. Minor tropical cyclones can develop into typhoons very quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation. Inform family and friends of your whereabouts and remain in close contact with your tour operator, hotel staff, transportation providers (airlines, cruise lines, etc.), and local officials for evacuation instructions during a weather emergency.
For further information on tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu the National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Fiji’s regional meteorological center responsible for tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, or the Government of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for your destination.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate with consular responsibilities for the territory you will be visiting.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.