Cat 4 TC Gita unsafe for Tonga

The forecast trajectory of cyclone Gita

People in flood-prone or low-lying parts of Tonga are being urged to leave their homes before the cyclone makes landfall, forecast for about midnight.

The Tonga met service said the country should feel the worst of the Cyclone Gita, which is now a category four storm, around midnight. These incredibly risky seas could last 24 hours aroud the southern islands of Tonga. "This is around 220 and 230 km per hour winds".

Powerful cyclones do tend to wobble at times from the forecast tracking.

"We're talking about Category 5, the strongest category for a cyclone".

By Tuesday afternoon conditions should be calmer in Tonga weatherwise, although unsafe seas and more normal rain could linger through Wednesday.

It is already packing gusts of 275 kmh (170 mph) as it sits off the east coast of the country's most populous island Tongatapu.

Beyond Tonga the computer models remain divided.

Gita was starting to form an eye.

"Once the urgent needs are assessed, we are expecting to help co-ordinate the supply of clean water and sanitation for those affected by the disaster".

According to Weather Watch New Zealand, the cyclone could come to New Zealand and may become a bigger storm than the recent ex-cyclone Fehi.

But it was too early to know if it would directly impact New Zealand's weather.

The forecast track turns clockwise before it starts moving westward next week, taking it north of New Zealand and close enough to require monitoring. So this large uncertainty means we should definitely keep the focus on Tonga for the next 24 hours.

1 NEWS reporter shows you how Tongans are readying for category 5 storm. A last minute wobble southwards could reduce damage, a wobble northwards from this projected line would likely make things even worse for Tonga.

A state of emergency has been declared in Tonga, and there's worry and uncertainty as the Kingdom braces for cyclone Gita.

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