TC Ian was upgraded to a Category 4 system overnight with winds of 170 km/h and gusts up to 230 km/h. TC Ian is 180 km south of Niuafo’ou and 230 km northwest of Vava’u, and heading southeast at 10 km/h.
Current modelling from RSMC Nadi suggests the cyclone will pass by Vava’u (population 15,000) around midnight (UTC +13) and then Ha’apai (population 6,600) around middaySaturday 11 January. The cyclone may cause destructive winds, heavy rain, high swells and flash flooding in low-lying coastal areas.
The National Emergency Operations Committee (NEOC) held a meeting and media briefing last night to discuss preparedness activities. Authorities are advising people to have enough food and water for 72 hours and to charge mobile phones and radios. Many people are boarding up windows and have cut leaves from fruit-bearing trees to reduce crop damage.
Tongan Red Cross Society (TRCS) has emergency response teams on standby and can access pre-positioned non-food items across five islands. IFRC has regional supplies available and is providing preparedness support to TRCS disaster managers.
The New Zealand Government has additional personnel at the High Commission to support assessment and response planning. Military assets are also available for reconnaissance and logistical support if required.
OCHA ROP is deploying an information management staff member to the capital Nukuʻalofa to provide GIS and mapping support to NEOC as needed.
The next update will be issued as information becomes available.