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Met predicts 2 or 3 cyclones this season

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Above, Eye of TC Ian over Tonga, January 2014

Tonga might expect two or three cyclones in the 2015-16 Cyclone Season, which started yesterday, November 1 and continues for at least six months until the end of April.

Cyclone activity this season might be “higher than average…with a high chance that one of them could severe,” predicts the Director of Tonga’s Meteorological Services, ‘Ofa Fa‘anunu. This is because the pre-cyclone season atmosphere and ocean conditions for 2015-16 are similar to four seasons in the past (1972-73, 1982-83, 1986-87 and 1997-98) when Tonga experienced above average tropical cyclone activity, including severe cyclones.

These Severe Tropical Cyclones wreaked havoc, damaged property and in one case (TC Julliette) caused loss of life,” ‘Ofa stated.

Traditional knowledge indicates that when drought conditions are experienced ahead of the cyclone season, enhanced tropical cyclone activity is usually expected in the upcoming cyclone season.”

Similar to 2015/16

No. cyclones S.Pacific

No. hit Tonga

No. hit Tonga Severe (>Cat3)




Tropical Cyclone ELEANOR
Tropical Cyclone JULLIETTE
Tropical Cyclone BEBE












Tropical Cyclone RON

During the past similar years there were also some years that were cyclone free, showing that each El Nino is not exactly the same as the other and there is no guarantee Tonga will be affected by a Tropical Cyclone this season.

However, ‘Ofa said this was not a reason for complacency and communities should be prepared.


About 10 to 14 Tropical Cyclones are expected to form this season in the South Pacific (from the Equator to 25ºS and from 160ºE to 120ºW). Most of the systems are expected to form around the International Dateline between 5º and 15º South (near Tonga). Subsequently, tracks of Cyclones likely to affect Tonga this season are likely to be from the Northwest to North direction of the Island chain, he said.

It should also be noted that tropical depressions (low pressure systems not reaching Cyclone intensity) have caused loss of life and property in the past. It is therefore critical that all communities in Tonga take heed of the warnings and alerts and act responsibly, to minimise loss,” ‘Ofa said. “Make it a rule to check the weather forecast at least once a day this Cyclone Season!”