Warnings are being issued in Tonga with fears the kingdom is in line to be directly hit by Tropical Cyclone Harold.
“Harold could make a direct hit as a “Severe” cyclone – Category 3 or 4. However modelling suggests, like Fiji, the Tropical Cyclone will pass just to the south of the island – limiting damage,” Weather Watch New Zealand reports.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner ‘Atunaisa Taumoepeau said Cyclone Harold could make landfall in Tonga at 7am.
Boat owners and fishers were being urged to stay away from waters and Taumopeau reminded the public about the Mormon Church evacuation centres saying they have been made available to those who wanted them.
Tonga Met Services reported the cyclone at 6pm this evening on its tropical cyclone advisory number nine saying a hurricane force wind warning remains in force for Tongatapu and ‘Eua land areas and coastal waters.
It described Harold as tropical cyclone Catefory 4.
A gale wind warning remains in force for Ha’apai, Tele-ki-Tonga and Tele-ki-Tokelau land areas and coastal waters.
A strong wind warning remains in force for the Niuas and Vava’u land areas and coastal waters.
A heavy rain warning and flash flood advisory remains in force for all of Tonga.
A small craft advisory remains in force for all of Tonga coastal waters.
A heavy damaging swell remains in force for Vava’u, Ha’apai, Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Tele-ki-Tonga and Tele-ki-Tokelau coastal waters.
An extreme high tide is now in force for all of Tonga coastal waters for tomorrow and Friday.
This afternoon at 3pm the Weather Watch New Zealand reported Tropical Cyclone Harold remains a powerful Severe Category 4 storm as it begins to slowly move off from Fiji.
It said the centre of the storm crossed over Fiji’s Kadavu Island early this afternoon but didn’t cross over the main island of Viti Levu, sparing Nadi and Suva from the worst part of the storm.
Significant storm surge is expected to have caused – and still be causing – widespread damage along parts of Fiji’s western and southern coastlines.
Kadavu Island and surrounds are in a well known ‘cyclone path’ and are prepared for events like this, however the power of Harold is strong enough to cause significant damage there along with catastrophic coastal flooding in vulnerable areas.