Tropical Cyclone Zoe - Tropical Cyclone Zoe

Tropical Cyclone Zoe turned out to be the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Pacific Ocean. During late December 2002, Zoe plowed over numerous tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean off Australia and Indonesia, leveling buildings, uprooting trees and churning up 30-foot waves that pounded the shorelines of islands such as Fiji (seen in this image at right edge).

Severe Tropical Cyclone Zoe was the second-most intense tropical cyclone on record within the Southern Hemisphere. The system was first noted on December 23, 2002 as a tropical depression that had developed, within the South Pacific Convergence Zone to the east of Tuvalu. Over the next couple of days the system moved south-westwards and crossed the International Dateline early on December 25. After this the system became better organized and was declared to be a tropical cyclone and named Zoe later that day. Zoe subsequently rapidly intensified in very favorable conditions as it continued to move west-southwest towards the Solomon Islands. The system subsequently became a Category 5 tropical cyclone on both the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale and the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale on December 27. The system subsequently affected the Solomon Islands Temotu Province during that day.

Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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