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Residents in Tonga's low lying coastal areas may experience flooding on Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, as a high tide of over 1.85 meters is expected.
Tonga Met today warns of the extreme high tide asking members of the public, residents and boat owners to take extra precautions.
Certain areas in Tonga are vulnerable to coastal flooding. The Director for the National Emergency Management Office, Leveni ‘Aho, said that these areas include low lying coastal villages such as Popua and other villages along the water at Hihifo between Fo’ui and Kanukupolo and Ahau, as well as villages in Hahake such as Nautoka.
Leveni expected that at 1.85m the tide can cause a little flooding but the extremity also would depend on other weather factors.
“Normally if there are rough seas, and the waves are wind driven, then higher than normal flooding will occur. The worst scenario is if there is a cyclone warning, then flooding levels will be a lot higher,” he said.
“There is a cyclone or depression starting up in Samoa but hopefully by the time it gets here the tide will have reduced,” he said.
“We would like people to know that the extreme high tide is coming and they need to be ready as nothing can stop water. As long as people know before it happens, they can make plans.”
More weather advice will be issued by Tonga Met this week as they monitor the depression forming in northern Samoan waters.
Meanwhile, the hottest day in Tonga's recorded history was 35.5C at Niuafo’ou on February 1 this year, when a long heatwave was experienced during the month prior to Cyclone Winston reaching Tonga.
February's heatwave was felt throughout Tonga.
On February 8, Fua'amotu on Tongatapu recorded a very high 34.4C - a day that was so hot that Fua'amotu had night time temperatures of 28.0C between 3:00am and 6:00am - the same temperature as Niuafo'ou and Niuatoptapu on the same night. Ha'apai was even hotter with 29.0C recorded at 1:00am on February 8. This compared to the lowest night temperature for Fua'amotu of 20.9C a week earlier on February 1.
The highest maximum temperatures previously recorded for Tonga in the last 10 years were 35.0C at Niuafo'ou on 11 December 2009; 33.8C Fua'amotu on 14 January 2016 and 33.8C for Niuatoputapu on 7 March 2006.
The mean Maximum daily temperature for January 2016 was 30.4C at Fua'amotu.
The changing temperatures were initiated by the El Niño effect which Tonga Met reported continues at moderate levels and is likely to end by June.
El Niño causes a lower than normal rainfall and an increase in cyclones. Tonga is still experiencing drought conditions with below normal rainfall recorded from December 2015 to February 2016. Rainfall caused by Cyclone Winston was not enough to ease drought conditions across the country.
Although El Niño is weakening, a drought warning remains in place for Tonga over the next three months.
Rain forecast over the next three months is below average for Vava’u, Ha’apai, Tongatapu and ‘Eua. Average to above average rainfall is forecast for the Niuas.
Tonga Met encouraged Tongans to conserve water especially those on smaller islands that don’t have ground water.
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