TC Mona becomes category 2 storm near Fiji, damaging swells, storm surge and flooding expected

TC Mona becomes category 2 storm near Fiji, damaging swells, storm surge and flooding expected

Tropical Cyclone "Mona" strengthened into a category 2 storm at 10:00 local time on January 4, 2019. The system is heading toward Fiji, forcing authorities to issue numerous warning.

With rivers being at medium to high flows, soil already saturated and more rain predicted, the chances of flooding of low lying and flood prone areas is high. Sea flooding of low-lying coastal areas and damaging heavy swells are also anticipated. The Northern, and Eastern coastlines are at high risk of inundation by the combined effect of wind stress, heavy swells, storm surge and high tide.

All communities living in low coastal, flood-prone and low lying areas are reminded to remain alert and take all necessary precautions, similarly for those living in landslide-prone areas. Members of the public are advised to remain updated with the latest weather information and take alerts and warnings seriously.

According to Fiji Meteorological Service media release issued 13:00 LT, January 4, Tropical Cyclone "Mona" remains to the northwest of Fiji Group and has gradually picked up speed in the last 24 hours.

The cyclone is expected to move towards the south-southwest till this evening (LT), turn and move east-southeast towards the Fiji Group from tonight.

At 10:00 LT, January 4 (21:00 UTC, January 3), Mona's center was located about 230 km (142 miles) north of Yasawa-i-Rara or about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Labasa, and was moving south-southwest at about 15 km/h (9 mph).

On the forecast track, the center is expected to be located about 180 km (112 miles) north-northwest of Yasawai-Rara or about 290 km (180 miles) north-northwest of Nadi at 22:00 LT (09:00 UTC) today and about 130 km (80 miles) north of Yasawai-Rara or about 250 km (155 miles) north of Nadi at 10:00 LT, January 5 (21:00 UTC, January 4).

Tropical Cyclone "Mona" at 07:50 UTC on January 4, 2018. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, CIRA/RAMMB

Given that the tropical cyclones have behaved erratically, when encountering land masses in the past, the possibility of TC Mona making a landfall over Vanua Levu on Monday morning remains a possibility at this stage and its movement will be closely monitored, Fiji meteorologists said.

The outer active rain bands from TC Mona have already started affecting the northern and eastern parts of the country.

As the system moves closer to Fiji, rain will become heavy and frequent.

Effects of strong winds are also expected from today and increasing to damaging gale force winds later tomorrow.

Depending on the closeness of the system to pass land areas, gale force winds can be expected especially over the Yasawa and Mamanuca Group, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands.

Damaging winds are likely to begin several hours before the cyclone centre passes overhead or nearby. 

The effects of wind can cause damages to well-built framed homes which can blow away roofs, trees uprooted and branches being broken, severely damage weak structures, totally destroy shallow rooted crops, cause loose objects to fly, damage electricity lines and poles, damage water infrastructure, etc.

For Fiji Waters, mariners can expect northeast to southeast winds 37 - 55 km/h (23 - 34mph), gusting to 83 km/h (52 mph) and moderate southerly swells. Poor visibility in areas of rain and thunderstorms.

Winds may further increase to 65 and 75 km/h (40 - 46 mph) with high seas over Vanua Levu Waters and Yasawa Waters from later tomorrow.

Meanwhile, an active trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain lies slow moving just north of Vanua Levu and affects the northern part of the Group.

A Special Weather Bulletin for Tropical Cyclone Alert is current to allow communities to prepare for the worst case scenario should the system directly affect the Group.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP

Tropical Cyclone "MONA"

Tropical Cyclone Warning Number 31 issued 08:20 UTC on Friday, January 4, 2019 

The following alerts and warnings remain in force:

  • A "Gale Warning" is now in force for Yasawa and Mamanuca Group A "Tropical Cyclone Alert" remains in force for Yasawa Group, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands and is now in force for the rest of Fiji
  • A "Strong Wind Warning" remains in force for Kadavu and nearby smaller islands, Yasawa Group and northern Viti Levu from Rakiraki to Tailevu North
  • A "Strong Wind Warning" remains in force for all Fiji Waters A "Heavy Rain Warning" remains in force for Yasawa Group and Mamanuca Group, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, the eastern half of Viti Levu, Lau and Lomaiviti group
  • A "Heavy Rain Alert" is now in force for the rest of Fiji
  • A "Flood Warning" remains in force for all low lying areas, small streams and areas adjacent to major rivers of Vanua Levu.

With rivers being at medium to high flows, soil already saturated and more rain predicted, the chances of flooding of low lying and flood prone areas is high. Sea flooding of low-lying coastal areas and damaging heavy swells is also anticipated.

The Northern, and Eastern coastlines are at high risk of inundation by the combined effect of wind stress, heavy swells, storm surge, and high tide.

All communities living in low coastal, flood-prone and low lying areas are reminded to remain alert and take all necessary precautions, similarly for those living in landslide-prone areas.

Members of the public are advised to remain updated with the latest weather information and take alerts and warnings seriously.

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Mona" at 07:50 UTC on January 4, 2018. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, CIRA/RAMMB

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