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Rounds of rain to hit southern US, Tropical Cyclone Pola to hit Fiji, Tonga

Staff Writer |
The welcome break in wet weather across the flood-weary southern United States will come to an end as downpours increase late this week and into the weekend.

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Through midweek, the bulk of the downpours will stay south of the areas hit by recent flooding and severe weather, focusing generally along the Interstate 10 corridor from southeastern Texas and Louisiana to Florida.

Locally strong thunderstorms can rumble along this swath with gusty winds and hail.

People spending any length of time outdoors along this corridor, including those vacationing at the beaches, should head indoors at the first stroke of lightning or clap of thunder.

Stormy weather will spread northward through the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys beyond midweek, where streams and rivers remain swollen.

Parts of Samoa and American Samoa were inundated with heavy rainfall in recent days as a tropical system took shape to the west of the islands.

On Tuesday, this tropical threat organized into Tropical Cyclone Pola as it moved southward near Fiji and Tonga.

Pola is current a Category 1 tropical cyclone, based on the Fiji tropical scale, with winds equal to a tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite tracking farther from American Samoa and Samoa, bouts of heavy rain will affect the islands into Friday.

Additional rainfall amounts of 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) are expected across the islands during this time.

As Pola tracks southward in the coming days, it will travel between Fiji and Tonga, sparing the islands from the cyclone’s worst impacts.

Despite the strongest winds and heaviest rainfall occurring largely between Fiji and Tonga, the region will still be at risk for flooding downpours and locally strong winds.

Across Fiji, the Lau and Lomaiviti Groups will be most at risk for downpours and locally damaging winds into Wednesday night.

The remainder of Fiji can expect occasional showers and a gusty thunderstorm the next few days.

In Tonga, western parts of Ha’apai Group and Tongatapu Group will endure the most severe impacts, with heavy rainfall and locally damaging winds possible into Thursday morning.

Rainfall of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) with local amounts up to 200 mm (8 inches) are possible.

Wind gusts of 65-80 km/h (40-50 mph) are possible during the worst conditions from the storm.

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