Cook Islands Meteorological Services director Arona Ngari said yesterday while there was no direct threat to the country from the category two cyclone, there were indications of strong winds and a possible storm surge.
A storm surge is a rising of the sea as a result of wind and atmospheric pressure changes associated with a storm.
Ngari warned boat operators to exercise caution and possibly avoid heading out to sea this weekend.
“There is expectation of a significant wave of five metres predicted for Rarotonga due to the strength of tropical cyclone Gita, but that could diminish depending on how strong the cyclone will be from its current form,” Ngari said.
“Our advice for people is to be careful of the high tide and I highly recommend those who own vessels to move them out of the water or take them to the leeward side of the island.”
Gita was following a southerly track and was predicted to pass east of Niue, away from the Cook Islands, by last night.
Ngari said high waves generated by the cyclone would affect the northern part of the southern group which includes Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Palmerston Island.
Strong winds and rain associated with the cyclone would subside by today, except for the storm surge.
The flash flooding and high swells reportedly experienced in Pukapuka were due to this surge, Ngari added.
“This (the flooding) is due to the storm surge perpetuating from the system while it was near Samoa. We actually placed strong winds warning for the northern Cook Islands, but did not mention it was due to TC Gita.”
Ngari said according to the forecast, Gita was slowly intensifying and would continue to do so if it remained in warmer waters.
“There are chances if it continues to intensify, by this time next week it could hit the western coast of North Island in New Zealand.”