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TC Gita forecast: Cat 4 threat for Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Tropical Cyclone Gita approaching Tonga. Image, Himawari Satellite, Weatherwatch NZ

Severe Tropical Cyclone Gita is forecast to hit Tonga with up to Category 4 force winds from tomorrow morning, Monday February 12 according to the latest forecast from the Nadi Torpical Cyclone Centre in Fiji.

A Category Cyclone 4 has mean winds 86-107 knots with a central pressure 945-910 hPa and is extremely destructive close to the centre. The centre is expected to track close to Tongatapu tomorrow morning.

Tongans are handicapped in their preparations for the storm as strict sabbatical laws prevent Sunday trading for emergency supplies. At 4:30pm today the capital, Nuku'alofa remains quiet and sleepy. 

Tonga Met officers said this afternoon that if the cyclone speeds up from its present slow moving approach it might arrive earlier. A hurricane warning remains in place for most of Tonga.

The WeatherWatch New Zealand says that  Tonga should be on high alert until the storm passes on Tuesday morning. Powerful Storm curves toward Tonga.

The forecast path shown above is the Nadi's best estimate of the cyclone's future movement and intensity. There is always some uncertainty associated with tropical cyclone forecasting and the grey zone indicates the range of likely tracks.

Fiji time is UTC +12 hours.
For example, 0000 UTC Saturday is 1200 Saturday Fiji time.
For example, 1800 UTC Saturday is 0600 Sunday Fiji time.

Category Cyclone 1 has mean 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