The Fiji Met Service reports that Tropical Cyclone Tino is now a ‘Severe’ Category 3 storm as it moves directly towards Tonga with “very destructive” winds up to 160km/h.
“The storm is expected to either cross directly over the island nation – or very nearby – later today/tonight with a potential direct hit from the centre”.
“Torrential rain, severe coastal flooding, damaging winds which can destroy weak buildings entirely plus dangerous seas and storm surge can all be expected across Saturday and tonight”.
Two people are reported missing and dozens more forced to seek shelter in evacuation centres after Tropical Cyclone Tino passed over Fiji last night.
Flooding has been reported in parts of Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
The storm a category 2 as it passed over Fiji but has further intensified to category 3 this morning with average winds up to 160km/h, described as “very destructive” by the Fiji Met Service.
Samoa has been spared as the storm trajectory shows it’s path moving away from Fiji towards the Kingdom of Tonga.
Two years ago in Feb 2018, Tonga was left devastated by severe Tropical Cyclone Gita categorised as a 5 with wind speeds of up to 230km/h. Gita was the most intense tropical cyclone to impact Tonga since reliable records began, causing damage of approximately $220.9 million USD.
WeatherWatch.co.nz says offshore storms will affect neighbouring Pacific Countries and Cyclone Tino is now moving in quickly from the North West and is stronger than originally forecasted.
Tino is the third tropical cyclone over the season – which runs from November to April – following Cyclone Sarai which struck both Tonga and the Lau Group in Fiji just a few weeks ago, and Cyclone Rita which formed at the end of November.
Normally about 10 tropical cyclones form in the Southwest Pacific Basin over the season.
Tropical cyclones are categorised in strength from 1 to 5, 5 being the most intense.
Category Cyclone 1 has mean (average) winds 34-47 knots with a central pressure greater than 985 hPa
Category Cyclone 2 has mean winds 48-63 knots with a central pressure 985-970 hPa
Category Cyclone 3 has mean winds 64-85 knots with a central pressure 970-945 hPa
Category Cyclone 4 has mean winds 86-107 knots with a central pressure 945-910 hPa
Category Cyclone 5 has mean winds greater than 107 knots with a central pressure less than 910 hPa