Severe Tropical Cyclone Waka was one of the most destructive tropical cyclones ever to affect the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. The name Waka has been retired and replaced with Wiki due to its severity of damage to Tonga’s infrastructure and environment. A native species of bat lost roughly 80% of its population due to the lack of fruit.
About Cyclone Waka in brief
Severe Tropical Cyclone Waka was one of the most destructive tropical cyclones ever to affect the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. Waka originated within the near-equatorial trough in mid-December 2001, although the system remained disorganized for more than a week. The storm gradually matured and attained tropical cyclone status on December 29. Subsequently, Waka underwent rapid intensification in which it attained its peak intensity as a Category 4 severe tropicalcyclone on December 31, with winds of 185 kmh. Shortly thereafter, it passed directly over Vava’u, Tonga, resulting in widespread damage. By January 1, 2002, the cyclone began to weaken as it underwent an extratropical transition. The remnants of Waka persisted for several more days and were last observed near the Southern Ocean on January 6. According to a study by Janet Franklin et al., storms similar in intensity to Waka, on average, strike Tonga once every 33 years. A native species of bat lost roughly 80% of its population due to the lack of fruit. The name Waka has been retired and replaced with Wiki due to its severity of damage to Tonga’s infrastructure and environment. In addition to the infrastructural and public losses, the environment was also severely affected; a native species of bat lost approximately 80% of its population because of the lack of fruit.
In the aftermath of the storm, the island requested international aid to cope with the scale of damage. The JTWC assessed the storm to have attained similar one-minute sustained winds upon peaking; however, this was due to discrepancies between the two centers. At this time, the storm displayed a well-defined, roughly 60 km in diameter eye in diameter. The last few days, the system weakened, with sustained winds below gale-force below 5-mph. The remnant cyclone briefly slowed over open waters before accelerating again before it was displaced by open waters. The cyclone was last noted on January 2, which it completed on January 5, when it was situated roughly 640 km northwest of Pago Pago, American Samoa. It was later classified as Tropical Depression 07P, when the storm was situated about 640 km northwest of the island. On December 19, the southern component of the trough developed into Typhoon Faxai, an extremely powerful Category 5 equivalent cyclone. By December 27, the depression had entered a region of lesser shear, favoring significant development of the system.