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End of South Pacific Cyclone Season Report 2022-2023

Posted on 22 November 2023

By Giorgia Zigliani, Lara Goulding and Stuart Meiklejohn

 Read the full report

The 2022-23 tropical season saw five named tropical cyclones, with the first cyclone Hale (category 1) named on 8 January 2023. Subsequent tropical cyclones were Irene (category 2), Gabrielle (category 3), Judy (category 4), and Kevin (category 4), with the last three cyclones being discussed at length in this report.

The season had less cyclones in comparison to recent years, but it is important to acknowledge that the wider Pacific region is becoming increasingly complex. This is because of the impacts of climate change, the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic, and global economic conditions that have caused inflation in the Pacific. These factors can influence the Pacific Islands’ ability to respond to tropical cyclones and other emergencies.

The first significant emergency was in New Zealand with Cyclone Gabrielle caused extensive damage in the North Island of New Zealand, most especially in the northern and eastern areas. Flooding, ocean swells, landslides, slips, heavy rain and strong winds damaged large amounts of private property, communications and infrastructure. This led to the Government declaring a State of National Emergency on 14 February 2023, only the third time this extraordinary measure has been taken. It has been estimated that damage from the cyclone in New Zealand amounts to $13.5 billion. The Pacific region mobilised support for New Zealand during Cyclone Gabrielle, with Australia, Fiji and Niue sending assistance in the form of personnel or air force planes.

Cyclones Judy and Kevin were category 4 cyclones that hit Vanuatu in succession during a 48-hour window from 1 to 3 March 2023. Both caused severe damage to housing, infrastructure, agriculture and aquaculture, and impacted an estimated 250,000 people. It is extremely rare for cyclones of this severity to occur so close together.

The international community mobilised to support Vanuatu following cyclones Judy and Kevin. Vanuatu received support from the New Zealand and Australian Governments along with other Pacific nations, the World Bank and a variety of global NGOs to help address immediate needs, as well as more long-term recovery efforts.

Photo: Noa, 11, painting at a child friendly space established by Save the Children after back-to-back tropical cyclones in March 2023. (Vanuatu, Credit: Damian Mobbs / Save the Children)


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