Tonga

APCEDI Alert SP/CI 15P Rene #6-2010: Cyclone Rene Battering Tonga Groups

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The RSMC-Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre and the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre are issuing guidance on Cyclone Rene, a tropical cyclone that lashed American Samoa and now battering Tonga's Central and Southern Groups.

Cyclone Rene is located 50 nautical miles (93 km) southwest of the Vava'u Group or about 115 nautical miles north-northeast of Nukualofa this morning. Cyclone Rene likely has peaked in intensity and is moving southwest at 12 knots. Close to its centre, the cyclone is estimated to have average sustained winds of 90 knots with momentary gusts to 130 knots making it a borderline Category 2-3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. It is forecast to move across Tonga at or near this level of intensity

Cyclone Rene is now battering Tonga. Overnight Rene hit the Vava'u group causing widespread damage. Contact was lost with much of the group overnight. Reports of widespread damage to homes, trees, roads, powerlines are slowly coming in along with extensive coastal flooding. Cyclone Rene is now bearing down in the Ha'apai and this group will take the full brunt of the storm today. Widespread damage is expected consistent with a Category 2-3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Fortunately all the islands have had extensive warnings, so residents in low-lying and vulnerable areas have been evacuated to safe buildings.

The Tonga Government maintains a Hurricane Warning for the Ha'apai Group, the capital island of Tongatapu and 'Eua. A Tropical Cyclone Gale Warning remains for the Vava'u Group and a Strong Wind Warning for the Niuas. Cyclone Rene continues to be a major storm, and this remains a very dangerous situation for Tonga. All residents in Tonga should continue to heed all Government advice and rush cyclone preparations to completion.

All cyclone warnings have now been lowered for Niue, Samoa and American Samoa. Fiji's Southern Lau group to maintain vigilance as Cyclone Rene may pass near to the southernmost islands in the group.

The following is an interactive list of the situation in each island group:

TONGA

Special Weather Bulletin Number SEVENTEEN for Tonga ON SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE RENE ISSUED FROM RSMC NADI Feb 14/2341 UTC 2010 UTC.

TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING

A HURRICANE WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR HA'APAI, NOMUKA, TONGATAPU GROUPS, EUA AND NEARBY SMALLER ISLANDS. A GALE WARNING IS IN FORCE FOR VAVAU GROUP. A STRONG WIND WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FORCE FOR THE NIUAS.

SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE RENE CENTRE [940HPA] CAT 4 LOCATED NEAR 19.4S 174.4W OR ABOUT 50 NAUTICAL MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF VAVAU OR ABOUT 115 NAUTICAL MILES NORTH-NORTHEAST OF NUKUALOFA AT 142300 UTC. THE CYCLONE IS MOVING SOUTHWEST AT 12 KNOTS. CLOSE TO ITS CENTRE, THE CYCLONE IS ESTIMATED TO HAVE AVERAGE SUSTAINED WINDS OF 90 KNOTS WITH MOMENTARY GUSTS TO 130 KNOTS.

ON THIS FORECAST TRACK THE CYCLONE CENTRE IS EXPECTED TO LIE ABOUT 50 NAUTICAL MILES WEST OF NUKUALOFA OR ABOUT 120 NAUTICAL MILES SOUTHWEST OF HA'APAI AT 151100 UTC AND ABOUT 190 NAUTICAL MILES SOUTHWEST OF NUKUALOFA OR ABOUT 275 NAUTICAL MILES SOUTHTHWEST OF HA'APAI AT 152300 UTC.

DESTRUCTIVE WINDS WILL BEGIN A FEW HOURS BEFORE THE CYCLONE CENTRE MOVES OVERHEAD OR NEARBY.

FOR HA'APAI, NOMUKA AND TONGATAPU GROUPS, EUA AND NEARBY SMALLER ISLANDS:

VERY DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE FORCE WINDS WITH SPEEDS OF 90 KNOTS WITH MOMENTARY GUSTS OF 130 KNOTS. FREQUENT HEAVY RAIN AND SQUALLY THUNDESRTORMS. SEAS PHENOMINAL. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS.

FOR VAVAU:

DAMAGING GALE FORCE WINDS WITH SPEEDS OF 35 TO 40 KNOTS AND MOMENTARY GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. WINDS GRADUALLY EASING LATER TONIGHT. PERIODS OF HEAVY RAIN AND SQUALLY THUNDESRTORMS. HIGH TO VERY HIGH SEAS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS GRADUALLY ABATING OVERNIGHT. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS STILL EXPECTED.

FOR THE NIUAS:

WEST TO SOUTHWEST WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO 35 KNOTS GRADUALLY EASING LATER TODAY. OCCASIONAL RAIN, POSSIBLY AND SQUALLY THUNDERSTORMS. VERY ROUGH SEAS. HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS POSSIBLE.

THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED ESPECIALLY FOR MARINERS:

WINDS ABOVE 63 KNOTS WITHIN 30 NAUTICAL MILES OF CENTRE WITH PHENOMINAL SEAS. WINDS ABOVE 47 KNOTS WITHIN 50 NAUTICAL MILES OF CENTRE WITH VERY HIGH SEAS. WINDS ABOVE 33 KNOTS WITHIN 180 NAUTICAL MILES OF CENTRE IN THE SOUTHEAST SEMI-CIRCLE AND WITHIN 120 MILES OF CENTRE IN THE NORTHWEST SEMI-CIRCLE WITH HIGH SEAS. STRONG CYCLONIC WINDS 25 TO 30 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO 45 KNOTS WITHIN 180 MILES OF CENTRE WITH VERY ROUGH SEAS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS.

THE NEXT SPECIAL WEATHER BULLETIN FOR TONGA WILL BE ISSUED AROUND 150230 UTC OR EARLIER.

PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF THIS BULLETIN.

APCEDI will continue to monitor the progress of this system.

Please go to http://www.afap.org/apcedi/ for the complete interactive alert on Cyclone Rene.

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

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posted by Bird Explorers at 12:14 PM