A Record-Breaking Rain

"The greatest rainfall ever recorded." That is how Friday's rain storm in Tonga is being described by government officials. And it was quite the storm. It started about 2pm Friday and lasted until 7pm and it never stopped. Imagine the intensity of a typical Florida summer storm, except lasting for five straight hours.

At one point, I started to get worried that the water was going to flood inside my home. Another inch or so and it would have been in my house. Luckily that didn't happen. However, one of our volunteers, Patrick, wasn't as lucky. He got flooded but he says all is okay now. He is the only Peace Corps person I know that had a flooding problem, but I haven't heard from everyone.

I shot this short video out my front door. The "lake" that you see is actually a field behind the school.

Here is how Matangi Online describes the rain:

THE Tonga Defence Force's quick reaction team responded last night to several calls for help as low-lying areas around Nuku'alofa were submerged during the greatest rainfall ever recorded in the kingdom.

At 10 am today (Saturday) the Fua'amotu weather station measured a total of 289.2mm (11.3 inches) of rain in the 24 hrs from 10 am on Friday February 8 to 10am on February 9. The Nuku'alofa weather station recorded 250.5mm in the same period."This is the greatest rainfall we have ever had in the kingdom," said the duty forecaster 'Ofa Taumoepeau this morning. It is more than the very heavy rainfall experienced in Tonga in 2006. Another climatologist working for the Tonga Meteorological Office said it was without doubt "an extreme event."This daily fall compares to mean rainfall for the whole month of February of 221mm for Fua'amotu and 210mm for Nuku'alofa.

By Saturday, a lot of the water had subsided, but there is still a lot of water everywhere. John, another volunteer here, told me he actually saw fish swimming on the road near his house.

***Other News***
Saturday I met up with a bunch of my fellow volunteers at a local restaurant. As we were eating, the U.S. Ambassador for Fiji Larry Dinger came walking in with a few other folks. His embassy is also responsible for Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. He came over and chatted with us for a while before going back to his table. His visit coincides with the visit of the U.S. Navy Ship Reuben James. The ship is here on a Goodwill Mission and the sailors aboard are doing everything from picking up litter to playing Rugby with Tongan youths. Some of the projects were suggested by Peace Corps volunteers.

The Naval ship was not the only boat in Nuku'alofa on Friday. The 1800 passenger cruise ship Aurora was docked here. This is the third one to arrive so far this year. Before the rain started on Friday, there were tourists and navy sailors everywhere.

By the way, the next cruise ship scheduled to arrive is the QE2 (Queen Elizabeth II) on February 18th.

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