Weather

It’s back: Winston alert in force again for Lau Group

A tropical cyclone alert is now in force for the Lau group, with tropical cyclone Winston displaying uncharacteristic behaviour by making a U-turn back to Fiji waters.  A strong wind warning remains in the Lau waters and the Koro Sea. According to the Fiji Meteorological Service, TC Winston, now a Category 4 cyclone, was located about […]

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February 18, 2016 6:23 pm

A tropical cyclone alert is now in force for the Lau group, with tropical cyclone Winston displaying uncharacteristic behaviour by making a U-turn back to Fiji waters.  A strong wind warning remains in the Lau waters and the Koro Sea.

According to the Fiji Meteorological Service, TC Winston, now a Category 4 cyclone, was located about 820km east of Lakeba at 3 pm this afternoon.  The cyclone is moving west at 5km/hr.  Close to its’ center, the cyclone is estimated to have average winds of 165km/hr and momentary gusts up to 230 km/hr.

On this track, the cyclone may bring damaging gale force winds over the Lau group from Saturday afternoon.

Weather forecasters Na Draki said Severe Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Winston is ‘changing its mind like the wind.’

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From Na Draki:

This time yesterday all the available forecast guidance and observational data pointed to the cyclone recurving close to central Tonga then moving down close to Tongatapu.

This time yesterday all the available forecast guidance and observational data pointed to the cyclone recurving close to central Tonga then moving down close to Tongatapu, and staying well away from Fiji. Overnight all that has changed, with all bar one model (The UK Met Office model) now pushing the cyclone west across Fiji territorial waters over the coming weekend.

The latest JTWC track forecast does still indicate recurvature near Fiji moving the centre southward, while the Fiji Met track from 1.30pm today indicates continued westward movement passing south of Kadavu late Saturday and early Sunday. Although the track forecast indicates the cyclone will pass some distance south of Kadavu, there is a risk it will actually pass closer to Kadavu than currently forecast. There is also still a possibility that it will recurve south before reaching Fiji. So all options are on the table, however the forecast for continued westward movement with the centre passing close to Kadavu is the most likely at this time. Where ever it is over the weekend, TC Winston will likely be a Category 4 cyclone with very destructive winds and damaging storm surges as it moves across Fiji.

The Lau islands, Lomaiviti, Kadavu, Beqa and south and east Viti Levu may potentially experience damaging to destructive storm force to hurricane force winds starting early hours of Saturday and continuing through to Sunday as the cyclone moves east to west across Fiji. People in the above locations, which includes greater Suva and nearby towns, should be implementing their cyclone plan. Although the cyclone is forecast to pass some distance south of Kadavu, it is possible it may actually pass closer to Viti Levu and hence people in and around Suva are encouraged to take actions just in case. Please continue to listen for latest forecasts, and don’t forget to plan now for what you will do if a strong category 4 cyclone moves towards you.

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