Weather

Winston back to category 3, high chance of return to Fiji waters

Tropical Cyclone Winston [970HPA] has re-intensified overnight into a Category 3 Severe Tropical Cyclone and as of 6 am this morning is was located near 17.5 South 172.8 West in open waters northeast of central Tonga. Director of Meteorology, Ravind Kumar said they will continue to assess the system as there is a high possibility […]

Peni Shute

February 17, 2016 2:57 pm

Tropical Cyclone Winston [970HPA] has re-intensified overnight into a Category 3 Severe Tropical Cyclone and as of 6 am this morning is was located near 17.5 South 172.8 West in open waters northeast of central Tonga.

Director of Meteorology, Ravind Kumar said they will continue to assess the system as there is a high possibility that Cyclone Winston will come back into the Fiji waters.

Tropical Cyclone Winston is moving east-northeast at 23km/hr. Forecast track now dips Winston to recurve south of its current track.

Maximum winds recorded from Tonga’s Vavau at 1 am this morning, southeast winds 55 knots gusting 70 knots with very heavy rain.

A strong wind warning remains in force for Southern Lau group but is now cancelled for the rest of Lau and Lomaiviti group.

Tropical Cyclone Winston was located to the far east of Fiji and is moving towards the east-northeast further away from the Fiji group. Associated rain bands continue to affect the Lau and Lomaiviti group.

In a weather bulletin issued from the National Weather Forecasting Centre in Nadi stated the Southern Lau group will experience strong southeast winds with average speed of 40km/hr and momentary gusts to 55km/hr, easing later today.

Emergency authorities in Tonga are keeping a close watch on Cyclone Winston as it moves through the region.

Damage to Tonga's military base in Vava'u. PHOTO: Greg Just/Stuff.co.nz
Damage to Tonga’s military base in Vava’u.
PHOTO: Greg Just/Stuff.co.nz

ABC’s Pacific Beat reports that there have been some reports of minor damage and flooding in several islands including Ha’apai in central Tonga.

Tongan youths swimming at high seas brought by Tropical Cyclone Winston. PHOTO: Loop - Tonga.
Tongan youths swimming at high seas brought by Tropical Cyclone Winston.
PHOTO: Loop – Tonga.

Winston is forecast to intensify in coming days and there are fears it will turn on itself and head back towards Vava’u in Tonga’s north.

Tropical Cyclone Winston has changed course and is bringing stormy weather to Tonga.

The Tonga Meteorological Service said strong wind, heavy rain, rough seas, and flash flood warnings remained in force for Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai, Niuafo’ou, Niuatoputapu and Vava’u.

Power is out in many parts owing to damage caused by Cyclone Winston. PHOTO: Greg Just/Stuff.co.nz
Power is out in many parts owing to damage caused by Cyclone Winston.
PHOTO: Greg Just/Stuff.co.nz

The cyclone was estimated to have an average wind speed of 120kmh at its centre, with gusts up to 170kmh.

Forecaster, Laitia Fifita of  the Tonga Meteorology Service, told Pacific Beat that there are more risks of extensive damage to what Tonga has experienced.

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