Tropical cyclone heads towards Tonga

A tropical cyclone dubbed Ian is heading toward Tonga, the summer season’s first South Pacific cyclone.

The Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre says Ian has formed north of Tonga but is heading south toward the island groups of Ha’apai and Vavau.

They warn of gales across Tonga, which has a population of around 106,000.

The 2013-2014 South Pacific cyclone season has been slow to get going. It is the first time on record that there have been no cyclones between July and December.

In the 2012-13 season there were 6 cyclones, including Evan which killed 14 people in Samoa.

Evan was unusual for the length of time it remained damaging, hitting in addition to Samoa, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Fiji and Tonga and its remnants reached the northern part of New Zealand.

There has been an average of 27 cyclones a year between 1981 and 2012.

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