The 1889 Apia cyclone
was a Pacific tropical cyclone
, which swept across Apia
on March 15, 1889 during the Samoan crisis
. The effect on shipping in the harbour was devastating, largely because of what has been described as 'an error of judgement that will forever remain a paradox in human psychology'.
The growing storm
Events ashore had led to upheaval in the Pacific nations and colonies. Both the United States and Imperial Germany saw this as a potential opportunity to expand their holdings in the Pacific through gunboat diplomacy
. In order to be ready should such an opportunity arise, both nations had dispatched squadrons to the town to investigate the situation and act accordingly. A British ship was also present, ostensibly to observe the actions of the other nations during the Samoan upheavals.
During the days preceding the cyclone of the 15th, increasing signs were visible of the impending disaster. March was cyclone season in this area, and Apia had been hit by a cyclone just three years previously, which the captains of the ships heard about from local people, especially as the weather began to change and the atmospheric pressure
began to fall. The captains were experienced Pacific seamen, as were many members of their crews, and they all saw the approaching signs of impending disaster, just as they knew that the only chance they had of riding out the winds was to take to the open sea.
Apia is an exposed... Read More