19 Feb 2016

Fiji prepares for a third punch from Winston

2:20 pm on 19 February 2016
Tracking map for Tropical cyclone Winston

Tracking map for Tropical cyclone Winston Photo: Fiji Meteorological Service

A forecaster at the Fiji Met Office, Misaeli Funaki, is warning the country to prepare for increasingly stronger winds as Cyclone Winston returns for the third time.

The storm is now to the north of Tonga's Vava'u but moving west and threatening severe weather for much of south and central Fiji.

Mr Funaki says their initial Fiji forecast is for gale force winds that are expected to intensify tomorrow.

"We are looking at it as it is right now, it is a very strong, very intense system, compact, packing a lot of punch with it and we are expecting the winds to increase dramatically from overnight tonight as the system comes in closer. The initial forecast as it is right now is for gale force winds in the onset of things and we [expect] it will increase as well."

Fiji's National Disaster Management Office is urging people to secure their homes, properties, businesses or their livestock as tropical cyclone Winston approaches the country.

Earlier on Friday, the Department of Information said people must closely monitor weather reports in response to the movement of tropical cyclone Winston.

Both the Nadi Weather Office and disaster officials are closely tracking the movement of the cyclone.

While the cyclone is a Category 4, the momentum of its movement has the potential to later develop into a Category 5.

The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Develop and National Disaster Management permanent secretary Meleti Bainimarama said the cyclone will bring about destructive winds and flash flooding in parts of the central division.

He said Fijians living in flood prone areas should also prepare for evacuation in case of flooding or damage to properties.

Mr Bainimarama has also called on parents and guardians to monitor the movement of their children and to always monitor their whereabouts.