Color-enhanced image of Tropical Cyclone Evan, taken at 1230 UTC Thursday, Dec. 13, shows the storm center a bit northeast of the island of Upolu, Samoa. (Samoa Meteorological Division/MTSAT)
Slow-moving, strengthening Tropical Cyclone Evan has dealt out destructive winds and flooding rain in the state of Samoa.
At least two people in the state of Samoa have been killed with widespread damage reported around the capital of Apia, the Australian ABC News website said.
Winds and rains of Evan also swept over Pago Pago in neighboring American Samoa, which was bracing for a landfall later in the day.
Winds toppled trees and power lines, as crops and buildings were damaged or destroyed by the storm, called the worst to hit Samoa in 20 years.
Forecasters warned of a storm surge of more than 3 meters, ABC said.
Tropical Cyclone Evan made landfall on the island of Upolu, home to Apia, by early Thursday morning, Eastern Time. Highest sustained winds at the time were 80 knots, or more than 90 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).
Forecasters at the JTWC said that the center of Evan was over eastern Upolu, where it was nearly stationary.
Official Hurricane Warnings were hoisted for Upolu, Samoa, and for all of American Samoa, with a Hurricane Watch on the island of Savai'i, Samoa.
The JTWC warned that the storm would continue to strengthen while remaining over or near the Samoan islands into Thursday night, Eastern Time. Thus, both Samoa and American Samoa were expected to be under threat of extended severe winds and torrential rain.
The Samoan Disaster Management Office (DMO) said the two victims were apparently children drowned in a low-lying area of Apia, the website stuff.co.nz said.
The DMO pegged the storm surge at 12 to 15 feet, or up to 4.5 meters.
One of the businesses that fell victim to Evan's wrath was the popular Aggie Greys Hotel, which suffered heavy flood damage, stuff.co.nz said. The Vaisigano River apparently swept through much of the hotel, ravaging its well-known restaurant.
Going forward, the forecast onset of easterly steering winds on Friday would imply westward acceleration by Evan, taking the storm's damaging weather away from Samoa. However, this would also put the Fijian archipelago under threat of hurricane strength winds and flooding rain as soon as Sunday.
The time difference between Samoa and American Samoa is 25 hours: noon Thursday in American Samoa would be 1 p.m. Friday in the state of Samoa.
Video credit: Brad Boelman/YouTube.com
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