THE weather office in Nadi is warning of heavy rain and flashflooding over the next few days as a result of the proximity of Cyclone Daman.
At 2pm yesterday, Daman, the first cyclone for the 2007-2008 season, had developed 85 kilometres east northeast of Rotuma.
At 4.15pm, Cyclone Daman had gale force winds averaging 75km/hr close to its center. It was expected to pass over Rotuma last night and then curve south towards Vanua Levu, Taveuni and later move to Lau.
At 9pm, Cyclone Daman changed direction and headed away from Fiji, but the Meteorological Office says a storm warning is in place for the Fiji group as a result of the proximity of the cyclone.
Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad said the country should expect strong winds, heavy rain and, as a result, flash flooding.
Last night, the Fiji Navy had a team on standby and was monitoring the weather and the current path of the cyclone. "We have special procedures to be followed when this kind of warning is issued and we are monitoring the situation," an officer at the operations centre said.
Last night, District Officer Rotuma Nicholas Ting said they were told of the warning yesterday afternoon but the wind was "not that strong".
"At the moment we are monitoring the situation ... if the situation worsens, then we will have to activate our evacuation centres," he said.
Rabi Police Station officer Corporal Taam Gill said they were monitoring the situation last night after receiving a warning.
Commissioner Northern Samuela Sadranu said he had not received any official warning but was monitoring the situation from radio broadcasts.
Consort Shipping Line Ltd Operations Manager Oliver Smith said they were not aware of any cyclone warning last night.
"Our shipping schedule has not changed and one of our ships left yesterday (Wednesday) morning and the next one is to leave on Friday," he said.
The shipping line services the northern sea route.
Suilven Shipping CEO Sitiveni Rabuka said their captain was aware of the weather system and their ships were equipped with weather tracking equipment, so they would have the latest satelite data.
"Furthermore, the ships and crew have Standard Operating Procedures to guide their response or other actions in adverse weather conditions," said Mr Rabuka.
"Of paramount importance in our Ships Operating Manuals is the safety of the ship and all on board."
DISMAC director Joe Rokovada was out of the office on bereavement leave.
Interim Transport and Works Minister Manu Korovulavula said he was aware of the cyclone alert but had not received an update last night.
Meanwhile, the areas affected by flashfloods in Rakiraki on Tuesday cleared after rain eased later on Tuesday night.
Rakiraki Provincial Administrator, Josefa Kama said all roads was cleared of flooding and the Raiwasa Bridge had been reopened to traffic.
Mr Kama said the authorities were now concentrating on cleaning the debris brought up by the flash floods.
Meanwhile, cyclones in the Pacific are named according to a schedule of names prepared by the World Metrological Organisation when it meets every two years.
Director of Meteorological Services Rajendra Prasad said the organisation meets every two years and there is a list set up for weather meteorological services to look once there is a cyclone.
"The book contains the characteristics of assessing the force of wind to decide if it is a cyclone and then a name is chosen," he said.
He said the name is selected in alphabetical order.
"We are mostly responsible for the naming of the cyclones in the Pacific and the last one that we named was Cyclone Cliff," he said.
The next cyclone would be named Elisa.