Storm nears

A TROPICAL cyclone alert is now in force for the Western Division.

And the Fiji Meteorological Service has cautioned that Tropical Depression 13F has the potential to intensify into a Category 3 tropical cyclone in the next 72 hours and poses a direct threat to Fiji.

Met director Ravindra Kumar said there was a possibility of the severe tropical cyclone making landfall.

“At midday today (yesterday), TD13F was located 15.3 south latitude and 171.3 east longitude or about 710 kilometres west-northwest of Nadi and 690km west-northwest of Yasawa-i-Rara.

“It is intensifying and expected to develop into a Category 1 cyclone within the next six to 18 hours and move south-eastwards towards the group.”

He said conditions favoured the system to develop as it moved over open waters towards the Western Division.

“We could see it reach severe Category 2 in the next 48hours. It has the potential to further intensify to a Category 3 cyclone over the next 72 hours as it tracks closer to the group and passing close to land areas on Tuesday.

“Tropical cyclones have behaved erratically when encountering land masses, thus the possibility of it making landfall cannot be ruled out at this stage.

“Therefore, the expected system poses a direct threat to Fiji at this stage. We will closely monitor this, and alerts and warnings will be updated accordingly.”

Mr Kumar added that people living in low-lying, flood or landslide prone areas should take the necessary precautions.

The Western Division has already experienced two flooding events last week.

And as the region braces for yet another spate of severe weather, police have called for the public to cooperate with its officers and to take heed of warnings and advisories.

Acting assistant commissioner of police Maretino Qiolevu has urged the public to work with his officers by taking proactive steps to move to safe ground in daylight hours.

One man in Tavua died and another was swept away by floodwaters in Navala, Ba, on Friday while attempting to cross flooded waterways.

Heavy downpour and flooding last Sunday caused by Tropical Cyclone Josie has already claimed the lives of five people.

A seven-year-old boy who went missing with his grandfather while out crabbing in Naviyago, Lautoka, is yet to be found.

The National Disaster Management Office issued a statement earlier this week calling on the public and motorists to refrain from crossing flooded bridges or waterways.