Tonga Readies for Winston’s Return, Increased Zika Risk
Since forming late last week, slow-moving (but intensifying) Tropical Cyclone Winston remains active in the Southwest Pacific (NASA, PDC Weather Wall). After bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds to parts of Fiji and Tonga as it moved through the area from February 15 to 16, Winston doubled back and is expected to impact parts of Tonga for a second time this week (ECHO). Storm, heavy rain, and flash flood warnings remain in effect for the Vava’u island group; while warnings of a heavy damaging swell remain in effect for all Tonga’s coastal waters (Tonga Met Service Advisory #27).
As response and humanitarian assistance agencies in Tonga prepare for additional impacts from Winston, they are also preparing for the potential increased spread of Zika virus in the cyclone’s wake (Reuters). According to reports, disruptions in accessible running water, hygienic drainage systems, and mosquito control measures may increase mosquito breeding. Earlier this month, Tonga declared a Zika virus outbreak after confirming seven cases of the disease, with another 542 suspected (MOH).
As of February 18 (2100 UTC), Tropical Cyclone Winston is located approximately 219 nautical miles west-northwest of the island nation of Niue with maximum sustained winds near 121 miles per hour (105 knots)(JTWC Warning #23).
RVA Profile: Tonga
This Week in Hazards:
- Abnormal dryness persists across much of southern Africa, with parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa experiencing severe drought conditions (CPC). Reports indicate that in addition to reduced water availability, damaged crops, and livestock deaths, dwindling water supplies are now undermining power production.
- Approximately 200 people were evacuated due to severe weather in the Córdoba province of Argentina on February 15 (PAHO). According to media reports, the storm was short-lived but violent, with rain, wind, and hail causing “serious material damage,” toppling trees, and impacting public services (Télam).
Current Hazard Warnings
Tropical Cyclone: Winston (Southwest Pacific), Uriah (South Indian Ocean)
Flood: Tanzania, Malaysia, Indonesia, Scotland, England, United States (Washington)
Winter Storm: United States (Northeast)
Drought: Bolivia, Panama, Eastern Caribbean, Micronesia, Southern Africa, United States (Western)
Biomedical: West Africa
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