Tropical storm hits American Samoa with outages, some damage

Tropical storm hits American Samoa with outages, some damage

Tropical storm hits American Samoa with outages, some damage

The Tonga met service said the country should feel the worst of the Cyclone Gita, which is now a category four storm, around midnight.

He said the storm's centre was forecast to go south of Fiji, though its southern areas would get high winds and heavy rainfall.

Red Cross worker based in Suva Hannah Butler told Morning Report locals were well aware that it was tropical cyclone season, and Tongans would be taking extra precautions. Many models are predicting it would hit New Zealand, but not until the middle of next week.

The cyclone has already created havoc in neighbouring Samoa and is threatening to become a Category Five superstorm as it approaches Tonga.

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Destructive winds are likely to begin several hours before the cyclone passes overhead or nearby.

Ofa Fa'anunu from the Tonga Meteorological service says Gita will be the strongest cyclone on record to hit the Kingdom.

"If you're just a little bit away from the centre, that's where the strongest winds are", Malivuk said. They do agree Gita will remain a powerful Cat 5 or Cat 4 storm for the days ahead and track westwards, but they don't yet agree when the storm will start to turn south into the Tasman Sea.

The tropical cyclone, which has already caused widespread destruction in Samoa and American Samoa, is expected to hit Tonga about 7pm.

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Tonga's Fua'amotu Weather Forecasting Centre said Gita was 450km east of Tongatapu at 4am on Monday, moving about west-southwest at about 20 kilometres an hour.

By early Tuesday average wind speeds were expected to be 165kmh, with gusts to 200kmh.

Earlier, Kaniva Tonga reported that Tonga's Minister of Police Māteni Tapueluelu said police had forced a hardware supplier to close down yesterday for breaching the country's Sunday laws.

The Pacific nation of Tonga braced for destructive winds and potential flash flooding from Tropical Cyclone Gita on Monday after the powerful storm pummelled Samoa over the weekend.

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