Tonga faces cyclones and drought as El Nino lurks in Pacific

An emerging El Nino weather pattern suggests drought and strong winds will hit the kingdom in coming months, a statement issued by Tonga Meteorological Service says.

“Based on the global climate models and assessments of the Tonga’s current climate regime the chances of an El Niño developing in the coming months remains at 50%,” it says.

“The effects of El Nino on Tonga usually varies but for most of the time it brings cooler dry seasons (like we are experiencing now) and drier wet seasons than normal and more cyclones.

It was normal in El Nino seasons that Tonga was hit by two cyclones.

The El Nino advisory says, “With the current situation, and the El Niño development remaining possible for the coming months, it is recommended that water conservation measures be taken as much as possible, across the whole of Tonga as below normal to normal rainfall is the most likely outlook across the country in the next 3 months.

“The worst droughts to be recorded in Tonga in recent history happened during El Nino Years.

“El Nino is the movement of warm ocean water from the north of Australia to the South American coast along the tropics.

“It brings warmer than normal water to the central and eastern tropical Pacific which usually results in changes in weather and climate.

“El Nino is a natural occurrence and happens about every 3 to 7 years.

‘The 1982-83 and the 1997-98 caused water shortages to a point where water had to be distributed to the islands of Ha‟apai and caused food shortages as a result of devastation to Agriculture.

Tropical Cyclone “Isaac” (Category 4 Cyclone that affected most of Tonga Islands and most costly on record) and Tropical Cyclone “Ron” (Category 5 Cyclone, strongest ever recorded in Tonga‟s history affected Niuafo‟ou) occurred in 1982 and 1997 respectively”.

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