The Tonga Meteorological Service (TMS) issued weather warnings at 12:00 (local time) on Thursday, January 16, ahead of the passage of Tropical Depression 04F that is forecast to impact Tonga from Friday, January 17, through Saturday, January 18. The TMS issued a gale alert, heavy rain warning, and flash flood advisory for the Niuas land areas, as well as a gale alert and heavy damaging swell for the Niuas coastal waters. It forecasts winds to strengthen to gale force winds between 70-90 kph (43-56 mph) by Friday night, and rough to very rough seas between 2-6 m (3-20 ft). Weather officials also warned of poor visibility in areas affected by heavy rain and thunderstorms. Light to moderate winds are forecast to impact Ha'apai, Vava'u, Tongatapu, 'Eua, Tele-Ki-Tonga, and Tele-Ki-Tokelau.
A small aircraft advisory is in place, and the TMS advises small fishing boats not to go out to sea in the Niuas coastal waters.
As of 12:00 on Thursday, 04F is located at approximately 12.9°S 173.1°E (map here) and moving east at a speed of 20 kph (12 mph) with maximum winds near its center between 50-60 kph (31-37 mph). Associated flooding, landslides, and transportation and business disruptions are anticipated, as well as disruptions to power and communication services, in the coming hours and days.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult.
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