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Cyclone Bebe

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Title: Cyclone Bebe  
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Subject: Geography of Tuvalu, History of Tuvalu, Tuvalu, Global warming in Tuvalu, Cyclone Keli
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Cyclone Bebe

Severe Tropical Cyclone Bebe
Category 3 severe tropical cyclone (Aus scale)
Category 3 (Saffir–Simpson scale)
Satellite image of Cyclone Bebe
Formed October 19, 1972 (1972-10-19)
Dissipated October 28, 1972 (1972-10-28)
(Extratropical after October 25)
Highest winds 10-minute sustained: 155 km/h (100 mph)
1-minute sustained: 205 km/h (125 mph)
Lowest pressure 945 hPa (mbar); 27.91 inHg
Fatalities 24
Damage $20 million (1972 USD)
Areas affected Gilbert, Ellice, and Fiji island groups
Part of the 1972–73 South Pacific cyclone season

Severe Tropical Cyclone Bebe, also known as Hurricane Bebe, was a pre-season storm that impacted the Fiji, Ellice and Gilbert island groups. The tropical disturbance that was to become Tropical Cyclone Bebe was first noted, within the Southern Pacific Ocean, near the 172nd meridian west during October 16, 1972. Over the next few days the system started to move westwards and showed signs of developing into a tropical cyclone to the east of the Ellice Islands during October 19.

Meteorological history

The tropical disturbance that was to become Tropical Cyclone Bebe was first noted, within the Southern Pacific Ocean, near the 172nd meridian west during October 16, 1972.[1] The system subsequently moved westwards and started to show signs of developing into a tropical cyclone to the east of Tuvalu during October 19.[2] As the system intensified further; it became equivalent to a modern-day category 1 tropical cyclone, on the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale during the next day.[3] During October 21, the system intensified and became equivalent to a modern-day category 3 severe tropical cyclone, before it passed over the Ellice Island of Funafuti, where hurricane force winds were recorded.[2][3] The system subsequently moved towards the south-southwest and passed about 120 km (75 mi) to the west of the reef island Niulakita.[2] Late on October 22, a Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft that was on a search and rescue mission, to the Ellice Islands found the system, about 60 km (35 mi) to the northeast of Rotuma.[2] At around this time the system peaked with 10-minute sustained winds estimated at 155 km/h (100 mph) and 1-minute sustained wind speeds of 205 km/h (125 mph) which made it equivalent to a category 3 tropical cyclone on both the Australian Scale and Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.[3][4] After affecting Rotuma with hurricane force winds during that day, the system moved southwards towards Fiji, and appeared on the Cossor Radar screen at the Nadi Meteorological Office during October 23.[2] The center of the hurricane moved on to the north coast of Viti Levu

During October 25, Bebe transitioned into an extra-tropical cyclone, before its remnants were lost noted on October 28.[3][5]



Cyclone Bebe affected Tuvalu between October 20–22, with hurricane force winds and left

Cyclone Bebe passed over Funafuti atoll in Tuvalu on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October 1972. At about 4 p.m. on Saturday 21 October sea water was bubbling through the coral on Funafuti’s airport with the water reaching a height of about 5 feet (1.5 m) high. Cyclone Bebe continued through Sunday 22 October.

The Ellice Islands Colony's ship Moanaraoi was in the lagoon and survived, however 3 tuna boats were wrecked. Waves broke over the atoll. Five people died, two adults and a 3-month-old child were swept away by waves, and two sailors from the tuna boats were drowned.[6] Cyclone Bebe knocked down 90% of the houses and trees and caused extensive damage to Princess Margaret Hospital and other public buildings. The cyclone contaminated sources of drinking water as a result of the system's storm surge. The storm surge also created a wall of coral rubble along the ocean side of Fongafale and Funafala that was about 10 miles (16 km) long, and about 10 feet (3.0 m) to 20 feet (6.1 m) thick at the bottom.[6]


Cyclone Bebe’s course began along a south-southwest trajectory before recurving near the 14th parallel south, which resulted in a south-southeast motion through the western portion of the Fiji island group.[2] It became the first cyclone to impact Fiji since 1952. On October 24, winds of 150 knots (280 km/h) or more were reported on Rotuma and Viti Levu.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b

External links

  • World Meteorological Organization
  • Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  • Fiji Meteorological Service
  • Meteorological Service of New Zealand
  • Joint Typhoon Warning Center

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