Cyclone Tino expected to cause extensive damage to Tonga

By Jessica Tyson

People in Tonga are being urged to prepare for the arrival of Cyclone Tino today, which is expected to cause torrential rain, flooding and damaging winds.

The cyclone, which was upgraded to category three today, is bringing winds predicted to increase to 130km/h, after already causing extensive damage and danger to people living in nearby islands, including Fiji and Tuvalu.

Ronny Samuel and his wife Lupematagi Manoa live on the coastline in Tuvalu and filmed footage of the storm outside their home.

“Yesterday, in the morning, we took a ride around the island and the road; you know, the trees were falling on the road and the seas (were) really high, throwing stones on the road, he says. 

“Some people, they lost their houses and they have to be evacuated to some evacuation centres designated by the government. It’s mostly the people who live alongside the coastline.”

According to the Tongan Met Service, a storm warning is in force for all Tonga's land areas and coastal waters.

According to Weather Watch, the centre of the storm will cross directly over the island nation or very nearby today.

“Torrential rain, severe coastal flooding, damaging winds which can destroy weak buildings entirely, plus dangerous seas and storm surge can all be expected across Saturday and tonight. This storm has now increased in strength to the point that all people in Tonga must be prepared immediately for damage.”

Cyclone Tino comes after a stream of other recent natural disasters, such as the Whakaari/White Island eruption, Australian bushfires and flooding in Rarotonga.

With many considering climate change as a contributing factor, Samuel is concerned about the future and wants more government action.

“If they don’t do that, because in the future if a category five or four [hits] here in Tuvalu, I don’t think the houses will stand.”

For Samuel, Cyclone Tino is not his first experience with a cyclone.

“I've experienced a lot of cyclones, like category five Pam (Rarotonga) in 2015, so it’s not too strong here in Tuvalu compared to Cyclone Pam.”

As Cyclone Tino approaches Tonga, he hopes people stay safe.

“They need to think of cyclone shudder for the windows, they need to cut down the coconut trees close by.”

According to Weather Watch, Cyclone Tino has no direct threat to Aotearoa.

However, the service says, “Offshore storms will make some eastern beaches more dangerous in the North Island, especially around Monday and Tuesday, and it's important to highlight the increased risk at some beaches as the weather above may be sunny and pleasant.”