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29 Dec 2019 | 11:42 PM UTC

Tonga: Tropical Cyclone Sarai to make landfall over Vava'u group December 30-31 /update 1

Weather warnings remain in place ahead of Tropical Cyclone Sarai's landfall between December 30-31; heavy rain, strong wind, flashflooding, and rough seas expected



Tropical Cyclone Sarai is expected to make landfall over the Vava'u island group between Monday, December 30, and Tuesday, December 31. Emergency authorities have said that the storm's track is uncertain, therefore emergency personnel have prepared all island groups with a particular focus on Vava'u and Ha'apai. The Tonga Meteorological Service (TMS) reconfirmed weather warnings at 17:00 (local time) on Monday. The TMS warns of heavy rain, flash floods, and rough seas across all of Tonga. It also reissued gale warnings for Tongatapu and 'Eua, while strong wind warnings remain in force for Vava'u, Ha'apai, and the Niuas. Weather officials are advising mariners of small boats to avoid going out to sea, and have also warned of poor visibility in areas affected by heavy rain and thunderstorms.

As of 13:00 on Monday, Sarai was located at approximately 20.6°S 178.7°E (map here) and moving east at a speed of 10 kph (6 mph) with maximum winds up to 120 kph (75 mph) at its center and momentary gusts up to 140 kph (87 mph). Associated flooding, landslides, transportation and business disruptions are anticipated, as well as disruptions to power and communication services, in the coming hours and days.  


Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult.