Cyclone Ian loses steam in Pacific

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 09:21 07/01/2014

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Cyclone Ian, the South Pacific's first hurricane of the summer season, has stalled in waters between Tonga and Fiji with forecasters uncertain what it will do next.

Ian was declared a cyclone yesterday and southern Tonga including the capital Nuku'alofa was put on cyclone alert, but this has now been downgraded by the Tonga Metrological Service to a strong wind warning.

The Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre in Fiji this morning issued a map showing Ian zigzagging across the Koro Sea between Fiji and Tonga.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii said it had "low confidence" about where Ian might go but said the cyclone appeared to be drifting west before moving south. This course would take it towards New Zealand.

The 2013-14 South Pacific cyclone season has been slow to get started and it is the first time there have been no cyclones between July and December.

In the 2012-13 season there were 24 cyclones, including Evan which killed 14 people in Samoa.

Evan was unusual for the length of time it remained strong enough to be damaging, also hitting Wallis and Futuna Islands, Fiji and Tonga, with its remnants reaching northern New Zealand.

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

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