Cyclone Rene strengthened into a Category 1 storm as it organized over American Samoa during the weekend.
It then quickly strengthened further to generate sustained winds in excess of 120 mph while taking a direct path toward Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu.
Rene had weakened to a Category 1 storm just before arriving there on Monday, but still managed to inflict significant damage, especially to banana trees and other crops.
“There's a lot of damage. A lot of shops, restaurants and offices in the city have lost their roofs and a lot of houses are also damaged,” police inspector Tatiko Kanfusi said from the capital, Nuku'alofa.
Radio reports from the remote island of Vava’u said almost all crops and fruit trees there were destroyed. Officials feared that food shortages could develop quickly unless relief supplies are dispatched to the worst affected areas.
Cyclone Rene Track
Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS