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Flood alerts in force as Tropical Cyclone “Sarai” strengthens to Category 2, Fiji

flood-alerts-in-force-as-tropical-cyclone-sarai-strengthens-to-category-2-fiji

Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" strengthened into Category 2 on the Fiji Intensity Scale (Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale) on December 28, 2019, and was positioned about 90 km (56 miles) SSE of Kadavu and 190 km (118 miles) S of Suva at 14:00 UTC today (03:00 LT, December 29).

At the time, the cyclone had average winds up to 110 km/h (68 mph) with momentary gusts to 150 km/h (93 mph), according to RMSC Nadi. It was moving NE at about 9 km/h (6 mph).

A Flood Warning remains in force for low lying areas downstream of Navolau station in the Rewa River.

A Flood Alert remains in for low lying areas and areas downstream of Nayavu station in the Wainibuka River, downstream of Ba FSC station in the Ba River, and downstream of Nairukuruku station in the Wainimala river.

Strong winds destroyed homes and crops, downed trees and power poles and caused considerable flooding since Friday, December 27. 

A number of flights in Fiji have been canceled and evacuation centers opened for people seeking shelter, authorities said. In addition, a major tourist travel company has suspended cruise operations.

Nearly 2 000 people were evacuated on Friday and one person went missing after being swept away by floodwaters.

Authorities are uring locals and tourists not to be reckless.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu said it was disappointing that some people had disregarded the weather warnings.

Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" at 15:10 UTC on December 28, 2019. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA

At 15:00 UTC on December 28 (04:00 LT on December 29) the Navolau station was at 8.62 m (28.3 feet), which is 0.62 m (11.02 inches) above warning level AND decreasing. The Nayavu station was at 5.2 m (17.06 feet), which is 0.2 m (7.87 inches) above the alert level AND decreasing. The Korovou station was at 2.32 m (7.6 feet), which is 0.18 m (7.08 inches) below the alert level and decreasing. The Ba FSC was at 2.12 m (6.95 feet) which was 0.12 m (4.72 inches) above alert level and decreasing.

A Storm Warning remains in force for Vatulele, Kadavu, Matuku, Moala and Totoya. A Gale Warning remains in force for Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, Yasawa and Mamanuca group, Viti Levu and nearby smaller islands, Lomaiviti and the rest of Lau group.

A Heavy Rain Warning remains in force for the Fiji group. A Flash Flood Warning remains in force for low lying areas, small streams and areas adjacent to major rivers in the Central, Northern and Western Division.

A Flood Warning remains in force for low lying areas and areas: adjacent to Korovou and Navua rivers, downstream of Ba FSC station in the Ba river, downstream of Nairukuruku station in the Wainimala River, downstream to Navolau station in the Rewa River, and downstream of Nayavu station in the Wainibuka river.

Sarai remains in a favorable environment with moderate vertical wind shear, warm sea surface temperature, and excellent poleward outflow. 

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Sarai" at 15:10 UTC on December 28, 2019. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA

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