At the moment winds are blowing at about 165km/h close to the centre of the category 4 cyclone, Ula, about 210km southwest of Tanna. The courses of cyclones are difficult to predict, but at present the best guess is that it will miss Tanna and continue to head in a southwest direction, however there is more to think about here than the direction of the storm.
We are in Port Vila (on another island further away) at the moment waiting to go home to Tanna tomorrow, but from our experience with Cyclone Pam last year, it is likely that many people on Tanna at the moment will be in a state of great anxiety. Most people on Tanna do not view a cyclone and an event controlled by an all-powerful God, nor as a result of explainable physical phenomena; but as a physical occurrence controlled by certain people who manipulate spirits/gods through their magical ability and mental state. That is, they believe that some people can ‘pull’ a cyclone to Tanna or send it away. Continue reading