Fwd: TSR Storm Alert - Tropical Cyclone RENE
Tropical Cyclone Rene, which has been upgraded to a category 4 storm, hit Vava'u and Ha'apai islands in the north of Tonga early Monday.
The storm was carrying winds of nearly 170 km an hour close to its center.
Chief Inspector Toia, who was in the capital Nuku'alofa, said she had spoken to colleagues on both islands who told her there was already damage to trees and crops, Radio New Zealand International reported.
Flooding was expected in coastal areas and people there had been told to move to higher ground.
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — Cyclone Rene battered Tonga with powerful winds Monday, cutting phone links, ripping off roofs and downing power lines in the South Pacific island nation.All telephone links with the outside world went down as the storm pounded the capital, Nuku'alofa, on the main island of Tongatapu in the south of the kingdom.Prior to losing contact, there were no reports of casualties or severe damage, but the Ha'apai island group, located in the center of the archipelago, faced "very destructive hurricane force winds" with gusts of 143 miles (228 kilometers) an hour, the Meteorological Office said. Heavy rain, thunderstorms, sea swells and flooding were expected.--snip--Tonga, the South Pacific's last kingdom, has a population of 101,000.The storm missed both American Samoa, a U.S. territory, and the neighboring island nation of Samoa on Saturday, though it triggered heavy rains, high winds and large sea swells. Both areas were spared more devastation after being battered by a tsunami that killed 226 people last year.American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono said a preliminary report indicated minimal damage to homes and government property from the storm, which indirectly caused one death — a 50-year-old man who fell from a two-story apartment building while trying to board it up Friday.
Nuku' alofa (21.1 S, 175.2 W)
probability for CAT 1 or above is 95% within 12 hours
probability for TS is 85% currently
Red Alert (Severe) is CAT 1 or above to between 31% and 100% probability.
CAT 1 means Tropical Cyclone strength winds of at least 74 mph, 119 km/h or 64 knots 1-min sustained.
TS means Tropical Storm strength winds of at least 39 mph, 63 km/h or 34 knots 1-min sustained.
For graphical forecast information and further details please visit http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com/
This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by UCL, Aon Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre. TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.