Swimmers in high seas amid Tonga’s Cyclone warning leave as Police arrive, flood waters recede

Tongan police this morning had to tell swimmers at a Nukuʻalofa pier to get out of the water and return home, including some sightseers in the area who already aware there was cyclone warning in place.

Photos uploaded to Facebook this afternoon showed people apparently gathered at Uafu ‘Amelika  to swim in high seas brought by Cyclone Winston.

Police central communications officer Telesia Adams said a Police unit arrived at the pier this morning and told swimmers to leave in which they cooperated.

She said special forces were standby on Tongatapu and their tasks included petroling the coastal areas since the weekend.

She said Police patroled all areas in Nuku’alofa, Hahake and Hihifo because of the cyclone alerts.

Flooding and Cyclone Winston

After about 48 hours of major flooding and minor evacuation in Tongatapu, waters level were slowly receding throughout the areas this afternoon.

Met Sevices said at 7.15pm today “the flash flood warning previously in force for Tongatapu and ‘Eua is now cancelled but remains in force for Ha’apai and Vava’u”.

Uafu amelika
Police this morning told these people to leave and return home. Photo/Patrick Mila (Facebook)

It said the Category 2 tropical cyclone was located closer to Neiafu, Vava’u than Lifuka in Ha’apai  and Tongatapu at 4pm this afternoon.

At its current location the cyclone was about 260km North of Nuku’alofa  or 110km North of Tofua or 130km North-Northwest of Lifuka or 40km West of Late or 105km West of Neiafu at 04:00pm this afternoon.

It said the cyclone is still moving Northeast at about 26km/hr(14knots).

On its current track, the cyclone is expected to lie 195km North-Northeast of Tofua or 180km North of Lifuka or 80km North-Northeast of late or 60km Northwest of Neiafu at about 01:00am tomorrow morning (17/02/2016).

Near its centre,the cyclone is estimated to have an average winds speed of 95km/hr(50knots) with momentary gust of 130km/hr(70kts).

For Ha’apai, Tongatapu and ‘Eua:

Damaging gale force East to Southeast winds with average speed of 65-85km/hr(35-45knots) and momentary gust to 120km/hr(65kts). Periods of rain, heavy at times with squally thunderstorms.

Very rough to high seas. a heavy damaging east to Southeast swell and possible flash flooding over Ha’apai, including seas flooding in low lying areas.

For Vavau:

Expect destructive North to northeast becoming Northwest winds tonight with average speed of 95km/hr(50 knots) and momentary gust to 130km/hr(70kts). Periods of rain, heavy at times with squally thunder storms. Very rough to high seas.  A heavy damaging East to Southeast swell developing, and possible flash flooding including seas flooding in low lying areas.

For Niuas:

Damaging west to northwest winds 65-70km/hr(35-40kts) from mid-night tonight.occassional showers, heavy at times. Rough to very rough seas.  A heavy damaging west to Southwest swell developing mid-night tonight.

A storm warning remains inforce for Vava’u.

A gale warning remains in force for Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai, Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu.

A heavy damaging swell warning remains in force for all Tonga coastal waters.

The heavy rain warning previously in force for Tongatapu and ‘Eua is now cancelled but remains in force for Ha’apai and Vava’u.

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