Tropical Cyclone Gita: How do the wind speeds compare?

Tropical Cyclone Gita has battered Tonga overnight leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. 

Gita is a category 4 cyclone and has been called the worst to hit Tonga in more than 60 years. 

At its strongest Gita had sustained wind speeds of of 230kmh and gusts of up to 278kmh.

That's faster than the fastest recorded wind gust in New Zealand of 250kmh at Mt John in Canterbury in 1970.

* Live: Tropical Cyclone Gita smashes Tonga, moves towards Fiji
Tropical Cyclone Gita smashes Tonga

It's also not far off the maximum recorded gusts of the Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria which devastated several Caribbean islands and parts of the United States in 2017. 

Irma registered a maximum gust of 298kmh, while Maria's winds got up to 282kmh.

On a recent "windy" day in Wellington gusts got up to 140kmh, half as strong as those experienced in Tonga overnight, but still enough to ground flights, cut power to thousands of homes and turns wheelie bins into flying missiles

The record wind speed in Wellington city of 198kmh was recorded at Kelburn on the night of the Wahine disaster - April 10, 1968.

Speeds of 248kmh have been recorded not far from the city at Hawkins Hill in 1959 and again in 1962. These speeds are a record for the North Island.

If all this sounds frightening enough spare a though for the people of Western Australia in 1996. The world record wind speed of 408kmh was recorded there at Barrow Island on April 10, 1996 when Cyclone Olivia hit.

* If you wish to help with the Cyclone Gita relief effort, here is how.

 - Stuff