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08 Apr 2020 | 07:15 AM UTC

Tonga: Tropical Cyclone Harold to coincide with high tide April 9 /update 1

Tropical Cyclone Harold to coincide with high tide April 9; heavy rain, rough seas, landslides, flooding, high waters, storm surge, and lingering disruptions expected

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Event

Tropical Cyclone Harold, a category four cyclone (second highest on a five-tier scale) is expected to impact Tonga in the evening (local time) on Wednesday, April 8. The Tonga Meteorological Service (TMS) has issued tropical cyclone and gale wind warnings for Tongatapu, Ha'apai, Tele-Ki-Tonga, Tele-Ki-Tokelau, and 'Eua islands.

The cyclone is expected to arrive alongside a king tide, a rare extremely high tidal event, on Thursday, April 9, and Friday, April 10. Extreme high tide warnings have been issued for all coastal waters for Thursday and Friday, and winds are expected to strengthen during the evening on Wednesday, growing to gusts of 150-195 kmh (93-119 mph) by Thursday morning. A small craft advisory has also been issued for all coastal waters.

Earlier on Friday, April 3, the storm resulted in at least 27 casualties after a ferry was capsized near the Solomon Islands as a result of heavy seas caused by the approaching Cyclone Harold.

Although the cyclone is not forecast to make landfall, associated flooding, landslides, and transportation and business disruptions are anticipated, as well as disruptions to power and communication services, in the coming hours and days.

Advice

Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, anticipate adverse weather and power and transportation disruptions, and remember that running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) is enough to knock over an adult.