Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" forms near Fiji, landfall expected at Category 2 strength

Tropical Cyclone

Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" formed near Fiji on December 26, 2019, as the second named storm of the 2019/20 South Pacific cyclone season. The cyclone is expected to continue intensifying, reaching Category 2 strength late December 27, SSW of Nadi, Fiji.

Sarai is expected to move SE over southern parts of Fiji and move across Viti Levu as Category 2 cyclone.

The Fijian Roads Authority said some roads were already beginning to flood on Friday morning, local time.

Although it's not clear how intense, Sarai is expected to affect the majority of Tonga. At this time, however, New Zealand is not expected to be affected by the cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Sarai JTWC forecast track

Tropical Cyclone Sarai December 26, 2019

Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" at 18:10 UTC on December 26, 2019. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA

Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" at 19:30 UTC on December 26, 2019. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA

At 17:23 UTC on December 26 (06:23 LT on December 27), the Gale Warning previously in force for Rotuma is now canceled, RSMC Nadi noted.

A Gale Warning, however, remains in force for Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, Yasawa and Mamanuca group, Kadavu, Loma Viti group, Viti Levu and nearby smaller islands.

A Strong Wind Warning is now in force for Rotuma and the rest of Fiji. A Heavy Rain Warning remains in force for the Fiji group.

The center of Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" (995 hPa) was located about 220 km (136 miles) NW of Yasawa-I-Rara and about 330 km (205 miles) SSW of Rotuma at 17:00 UTC today. 

Close to its center, the cyclone is expected to have average winds of up to 65 km/h (40 mph) with momentary gusts to 90 km/h (55 mph). The cyclone is moving south at 35 km/h (22 mph).

It is expected to continue moving south and the center should be about 90 km (55 miles) west of Viwa or about 160 km (99 miles) west-northwest of Nadi by 04:00 UTC on December 27 (17:00 LT).

For Rotuma: expect fresh to strong northwesterly winds with speeds of up to 45 km/h (28 mph) with momentary gusts to 80 km/h (50 mph). Rough to very rough seas with moderate to heavy northerly swells. Periods of rain, heavy at times with squally thunderstorms. Sea flooding of low lying coastal areas expected.

For Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, Yasawa and Mamanuca group, Kadavu, Loma Viti group, Viti Levu and nearby smaller islands: expect strong northerly winds, increasing to damaging gale force winds with average speeds of 65 km/h (40 mph) with momentary gusts to 90 km/h (55 mph) from this morning (LT). Very rough to high seas. Occasional rain becoming frequent and heavy with squally thunderstorms. Localized heavy rain may lead to flooding of low lying areas. Coastal sea flooding to be expected during high tides if the cyclone center passes nearby.

For the rest of Fiji: expect fresh to strong east to northeasterly winds with speeds up to 45 km/h (28 mph) with momentary gusts to 80 km/h (50 mph). Rough to very rough seas with moderate easterly swells. Occasional rain, heavy at times with squally thunderstorms.

The following information is provided especially for the mariners for Rotuma waters: northwesterly winds up to 55 km/h (34 mph) gusting to 75 km/h (45 mph) with very rough seas. Winds expected to gradually ease later today (LT). Moderate to heavy northerly swells.

For Yasawa and Mamanuca waters, northern Vanua Levu waters, southwest Viti Levu waters and Vatu-I-Ra passage: strong north to northeasterly winds 45 km/h (30 mph) to 55 km/h (35 mph) increasing up to 75 km/h (45 mph) by this morning (LT). Very rough to high seas with damaging heavy northerly swells.

For the rest of Fiji waters: strong east to northeasterly winds 37 - 45 km/h (23 - 30 mph). Rough seas with moderate easterly swells.

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" at 18:10 UTC on December 26, 2019. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA

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