Tropical Cyclone Ian Projected to Hit Tonga, Could be ‘Catastrophic’

January 9, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Tropical Cyclone Ian is projected to hit the island nation of Tonga soon, and the impact could be “catastrophic.”

Ian has been raised to a Category 4 storm system, with average winds of miles per hour (170 kilometers per hour) and gusts of up to (230 kilometers per hour).

The cyclone is moving toward the Vava’u and Ha’apai island groups. 

The cyclone could cause waves of up to 20 feet, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The U.S. Embassy in the area issued an emergency message for citizens in Fiji and Tonga, saying that Ian “may bring damaging gale force winds” in the next 24 hours.

Sanjay Prakash, a forecaster from the Fiji Meteorological Service told Radio Australia that the cyclone will be “catastrophic” and “bring a lot of damage to the kingdom.”

“It will be at its peak during the time of landfall,” he said.

Leveni Aho, director of Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office, told ABC that residents should prepare for the worst.

“A reminder to people to make sure that they have enough supplies for the next 72 hours in terms of water, drinking water, and food and (ensure) some basic necessities like radios and mobile phones are charged to maintain communication,” he said.

“Make sure that they are in a safe place, if ever the winds arrive keeping away from low lying areas and the coastal areas, make sure that they are in a safe house, sheltered.”

Residents on Tonga’s islands said that they’re boarding up windows and making other preparations.

“The skying is milky and grey so there is definitely something coming,” Kjelll Stayv, a hotel owner, said.

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