Authorities on alert for tidal swells

Authorities on alert for tidal swells
September 27 10:48 2015

State authorities are making preparations for tidal swells that could hit islands across the Maldives from September 27 to 30.

The police and military are in a state of readiness to assist islands at risk of flooding. The authorities have advised laying sandbags to protect powerhouses, health centres, and garbage dumps, and to take foodstuffs, valuables, and electronic equipment at beachfront homes and offices further inshore.

The department of meteorology last week warned of tidal swells and flooding in connection with the perigean spring tide, which occurs when the full moon coincides with the perigree of the moon – the point when the moon is closest to the earth.

At a joint press conference with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) on Friday night, Abdul Muhsin Ramiz, director of the meteorology department, explained that tides could rise up to six inches higher than normal during high tide, which occurs between 11:30am and 3:00pm and between 12:00am and 3:30am.

Wave heights could also be higher than normal and tidal swells are likely during high tides in islands that have experienced swells before, he said.

But swells could also hit two hours before high tide, he added.

Islands in the north and central Maldives the most likely to be affected first, Muhsin said, but tidal swells could hit also the rest of the country later.

Muhsin said the Maldives will also observe a ‘red moon’ around 5:11am on Monday, September 28, but would not see the total lunar eclipse.

The met department also warned of heavy rainfall and strong winds during the week. The Maldives has been experiencing a prolonged bout of bad weather in recent weeks with some 400 passengers rescued at sea and thunderstorms damaging property across the country.

A seaplane and several speedboats docked at harbors had to be refloated while two islands in Meemu atoll were flooded after torrential rains on Friday.

In August, tidal swells hit Malé, causing severe flooding in the northeast side of the capital city. The area was inundated with more than two feet of water.

Fathmath Thasneem, head of the NDMC, meawhile urged island councils to inform the public and take precautionary measures.

If tidal swells hit, Thasneem advised islands to seek help from the centre as well as the police and military. She also urged councils in islands with pump stations to take the initiative to clear out flood waters.

As the swells are not expected to cause extensive flooding, Thasneem advised councils to store foodstuffs, engines, and official documents in areas unlikely to be affected by flooding.

Colonel Mohamed Ibrahim, commander of the MNDF coastguard, advised caution in travelling by sea as currents could be stronger than usual.

Ibrahim said locals and tourists who go swimming should also be wary of strong currents.

The police meanwhile informed island councils yesterday to advise the public not to send women, children, and the elderly swimming during high tide, and not to park vehicles near the waterfront.