6 Jan 2014

Cyclone forms near Tonga

7:21 pm on 6 January 2014

Forecasters in Fiji say they do not expect a tropical cyclone to make landfall on Tonga.

The Fiji Meteorological Service said on Monday that Ian, a category 1 cyclone, was about 194km northwest of the Ha'apai and Vava'u island groups.

Forecaster Aminiasi Tuidraketi said Ian is slow-moving and the wind speed is averaging 75km/h close to its centre. He said it is trying to travel south, but a high pressure ridge is preventing this.

Mr Tuidraketi said Ian may bring damaging gale-force winds to the Ha'apai and Vava'u groups, which can expect heavy rain, squally thunderstorms and very rough seas on Tuesday.

Radio Tonga News reports the biggest concern in Ha'apai is the damage a cyclone can do to fruit trees, especially mango and breadfruit which are in season.