Saturday, 20 February 2016

Category 5 tropical storm Winston makes landfall in Fiji islands

This is turning out to be the WORST cyclone in southern hemisphere history, with winds up to 325 km/hr (200 mph)


Fiji's Lau group pounded by Winston


The Fiji Meteorological Service says islands in the Lau group are now feeling the effects of tropical cyclone Winston.


20 February, 2016

Tracking map for Tropical cyclone Winston.Tracking map for Tropical cyclone Winston.
Photo: Fiji Meteorological Service

Taveuni right now


It says the category five cyclone has average winds of 220 kilometres an hour and momentary gusts of 315 kilometres an our.



The cyclone is moving west at about 22 kilometres an our.

The high winds generated by Cyclone Winston over Fiji can be seen on this global wind map.The high winds generated by Cyclone Winston over Fiji can be seen on this global wind map.    Photo: EarthWindMap

A tropical cyclone forecaster at the Fiji Meteorological Service, Misaeli Funaki, said "On its track it went really close to Vanuabalavu at 7am local time, an island in the Lau group, and the weather observation centre recorded winds of 185 kph."

He said they are yet to receive reports of damages on the ground.

Watch: Even with Tropical Cyclone Winstone still a few hours away, the winds and waves are picking up at a beach an hour out of Suva:



Mr Funaki also adds Winston shifted slightly overnight, and it's now expected to pass in-between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, moving closer to the bigger island of Vanua Levu, with the capital Suva narrowly missing a direct hit.

But he said while some islands may not be in the hurricane warning areas, the devastation will still be damaging at this is a category five system.

A satellite image at taken at 6.30am local timeA satellite image at taken at 6.30am local time
Photo: Fiji Meteorological Service

Evacuation centres open


Fiji's National Disaster Management office says more than 700 evacuation centres across the country are ready and on standby in the four regions.

Some families have already moved into the centres according to the office's George Dregaso.

"Those that don't have a proper house and those living along coastal and rivers that are vulnerable to storm surge and flooding."

Mr Dregaso has urged those living in the low lying areas have been advised to move to higher ground.

He also added that people have been advised to secure their homes and keep a check on their children.

hasn't arrived yet but already people are posting up photos like these



disaster emergency officials briefed on progress of TC Winston & the prepared response by each agency


UPDATE


Winds in Fiji have been reprorted as high as 325 km/hr (200 mph)


Curfew imposed, 


communication cut, as 


Winston tears through Fiji



A nationwide curfew was imposed and a state of emergency declared in Fiji on Saturday as cyclone Winston slowly moved through the country with winds gusting as high as 325 kilometres an our.

Communication was also cut to some of the outer islands as they were hit by the category five cyclone, which is predicted to be one of the most destructive to have ever hit the country of close to one million people.



The cyclone was setting in to the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu on Saturday evening, with strong winds and heavy swells lashing coastlines, and heavy persistent rain driving in.

It is currently about 130 km northeast of the capital, Suva, tracking west at about 25 km/h.

Winston was forecast to move between the two islands on Saturday evening, with average winds of 230km/h, but gusting as high as 325km/h.

New Zealand's Metservice said by some measurements, it was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever form in the southern hemisphere.

The strongest cyclone ever 

observed in the Southern 

Hemisphere


3 pm Saturday (Fiji): According to JTWC's database, Cyclone WINSTON is now the strongest cyclone ever observed in the S Hemisphere-- stronger even than Cyclone MONICA of 2006. The JTWC estimates WINSTON's maximum 1-minute winds are 160 knots (185 mph/295 km/hr). For comparison, here are the max cyclone winds estimated/recorded in other basins:

* Hurricane PATRICIA (2015) - EPAC: 185 knots
* Super Typhoon HAIYAN (2013) - WPAC: 170 knots
* Hurricane WILMA (2005) - NATL: 160 knots

(Winds estimated in Typhoon NANCY (1961) and Hurricane ALLEN (1980) have have not been reanalyzed and are not included. The 1935 hurricane in Florida USA is also estimated to have had winds of 160 knots.)

Note these speeds have increased to 325 km/hr (175 knots)

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