TC Ella expected to intensify

(photo: Wind Alert)

NUKU’ALOFA – May 11: 10:01am (Nuku’alofa Times): Tropical Cyclone Ella is expected to intensify into a Category 3 system says the Fiji Meteorological Service.

Tropical Cyclone Ella intensified overnight and is now a Category 2 system.

The Fiji Weather Forecasting Station in Nadi said that at 6am this morning, Cyclone Ella was located near 14.4 degree South latitude and 176.4 degree West longitude or about 430km east-northeast of Vanuabalavu or 450km east-northeast of Udu Point.

It has a central pressure of 985 HPA and currently moving west at about 12km/hr (about 6knots).

Close to its centre, the cyclone is expected to have average winds of up to 95 km/hr (about 50 knots) with momentary gusts up to 130 km/hr (about 70 knots).

TC Ella is predicted to maintain a westward track and expected to lie about 220km north of Vanua Balavu and about 135 northeast of Udu Point at mid-day tomorrow.

On this track, it is expected to be located about 115km northeast of Labasa and about 290km east-northeast of Yasa-i-Rara at mid-day on Saturday.

It is anticipated to its category 2 intensity over the next 48 hours. A tropical cyclone alert remains in force for Lau and Lomaiviti group, Vanualevu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands.

Furthermore, a strong wind warning remains in force for Lau and Lomaiviti group, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands. Expect strong southeast winds with an average speed of 45km/hr, gusting to 80km/hr.

For the rest of Fiji, expect moderate to fresh south to southeast winds. A strong wind warning remains in force for Northern Vanua Levu and Lau Waters, Koro Sea, Vatu-i-Ra and Kadavu Passages.

Expect rough seas with east to southeast winds 20 to 30 knots, gusting to 45 knots. For the rest of Fiji waters, southeast winds 15 to 20 knots with gust to 30 knots. Expect occasional showers and few thunderstorms over Lau and Lomaiviti group, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands.

Elsewhere, fine apart from isolated afternoon or evening showers and thunderstorms. The weather will be closely monitored and updates will be provided as any significant changes are observed. All communities should remain prepared at all times, take necessary precautions when alerts, warnings and advisories are issued.

Meanwhile, Tonga’s northern most island group is in preparing and Fiji police are urging the public to take heed of the weather advisories as Cyclone Ella approaches both countries.

The cyclone is moving past the northernmost islands of Tonga before reaching northeastern Fiji today

Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office director Leveni ‘Aho said emergency services are on standby in the Niuas, where up to 700 people are living.

He said while there were no reports of damage as yet, locals were preparing for tonight when the storm will be at its closest.

“Get their fuel and batteries and radio and things like that. The normal things we do in preparation for cyclones. At this stage it is a category one, we just hope it would not escalate from that but that is pretty much where we are, trying to get all the other emergency services on standby now, ready to deploy if required,” Mr ‘Aho advised.

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