Cyclone headed for Tonga downgraded but met service continuing to keep watch

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / Tonga Met Service

The cyclone originally forecast to strike Tonga on New Year's Day has been downgraded but the met service is continuing to monitor the system in case of any significant changes.

The Tonga Met Service reported at 3pm today that Tropical Cyclone Sarai, which had a role in two deaths in Fiji over the weekend and caused widespread flooding and mass evacuations, has been downgraded to a category 1 system.

Locals are being warned to expect gale force winds up to 70 to 90 kilometres per hour at times beginning this afternoon, occasional to heavy rain and also being told not to go out to sea in small fishing boats.

The system was around 20 kilometres West Northwest of Nuku’alofa at 1pm today and is expected to continue to move East Northeast in the next 6 to 12 hours within the vicinity of Tongan waters.

The met service says it will continue to monitor the system and provide updates in case of any significant changes.