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Fiji and Tonga: Tropical Cyclone Winston - Information Bulletin n° 1

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This bulletin is being issued for information only, and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Fiji Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is currently determining the need for international assistance. International assistance has not been considered by the Tonga Red Cross Society at this time. This may change as the situation develops.

The situation

Tonga

Tropical Cyclone Winston (category 4) passed north of Vava’u (population 15,000) in Tonga for a second time in the morning of 19 February 2016 bringing sustained winds to the surrounding islands.

The National Emergency Management Committee has agreed to release USD 89,480 to support the Immediate Relief Response Plan for Tropical Cyclone Winston as well as the Response Plan for the Zika Virus. The Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) estimated the damages caused by the cyclone are lesser than expected mainly because of the cyclone’s more northerly course in relation to Vava’u. This is the third time the area has been affected by a cyclone this year. The NEMO reports that it is looking at securing resources locally from partners already on the ground.

Fiji

As of the afternoon of 19 February, Tropical Cyclone Winston increased its intensity to Category 5. As of the morning of 20 February, it was located near 17.2s 178.7w., 120 km north of Lekeba or 320km east-north east of Suva. The cyclone is moving west at approximately 25 km per hour. Maximum average winds near the centre are estimated at about 200 km per hour. Closer to the centre, the cyclone is estimated to have average winds of 220 km per hour and momentary gusts of 315 km per hour. The cyclone is currently moving north of Viti Levu. On this track, the cyclone is expected to be located 200km northwest of Lakeba or 170 km northeast of Suva at 5.00pm and about 350 km west-northwest of Lakeba or 100 km north-northwest of Suva at 5.00am on Sunday 21 February. The Government of Fiji has declared a state of emergency at 1.00 pm on Saturday.

The Fiji Meteorological Service is warning the country to prepare for increasingly stronger winds as Tropical Cyclone Winston returns for the third time. The cyclone has increased its intensity to Category 5. The cyclone will bring about destructive winds and flash flooding in parts of the central division and considerable damage is expected in the southern coast of Vanua Levu (estimated population 135,000).

The Fiji's National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is urging people to secure their homes, properties, businesses or their livestock as Tropical Cyclone Winston approaches the country. Both the Nadi Weather Office and disaster officials are closely tracking the movement of the cyclone.
A total of 80 evacuation centres have been activated across the country and some 144 families are currently seeking shelters in these centres. Schools and markets have been closed, government hospitals are on standby, while electricity supply in the country is not affected.

The situation remains fluid, and partners continue to monitor the situation over the coming hours.
The picture below depicts the latest estimated trajectory as at 2218 UTC on Friday, 19 February :