TD13F intensifies

Fiji Meteorological Service director Ravind Kumar explains the weather patterns on a map during a media briefing in Nadi yesterday. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Fiji Meteorological Service director Ravind Kumar explains the weather patterns on a map during a media briefing in Nadi. Picture: FILE

TROPICAL disturbance 13F (TD13F) has been upgraded to a tropical depression and has a high potential to develop into a Category 1 cyclone in the next 24 to 48 hours, says Fiji Meteorological Service director Ravind Kumar.

He said the immediate concern was rainbands associated with another active trough of low pressure drifting over the group that would bring strong wind, heavy rain and flooding of low-lying areas and rivers over the weekend.

“With more rain forecasted and the soil already saturated, there is a high risk of severe flooding especially in these areas,” he said.

Mr Kumar said a flood warning was now in force for low-lying areas adjacent to downstream of Vatukacevaceva to Rakiraki Town, downstream of Dreketilailai to Qawa River and downstream of Nasivi to Tavua Town.

A flood alert remained in force for low-lying areas, small streams and areas adjacent to the rest of the major rivers of Vanua Levu, Taveuni and the Western Division. Mr Kumar added that TD13F would bring strong wind, more rain and even more flooding as it drew closer to the country.

“It may track south-eastwards with the centre possibly passing close to the group early next week. The actual timing, intensity and movement remains uncertain at this stage and will become clearer in the next 24 to 72 hours.

“As TD13F approaches the group, winds are expected to turn north-westerly and become stronger with average speeds of 55km/hr gusting to 80km/hr by later Sunday and gradually increasing to gale force winds of 85km/hr gusting to 120km/hr by Monday.

“However, the concern for the weekend is strong wind, heavy rain, flooding of low-lying areas and rivers.”

A strong wind warning is now in force for all Fiji waters.

A strong wind warning remains in force for all land areas of western Viti Levu, Yasawa and Mamanuca groups, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands and northern Lau Group.

A heavy rain warning remains in force for the Western Division, Yasawa and Mamanuca groups, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, Lomaiviti and northern Lau Group.

Meanwhile, as heavy rainfall started across the Western Division, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama issued a statement urging people across the country to take heed of weather warnings.

“Be prepared, stay safe, listen out for regular updates on the weather conditions and follow the instructions of disaster management officials,” he said.

“If you are being affected, know that help is on the way.”

Yesterday afternoon about 3pm, heavy rain began pouring across the West with people in Ba reporting power outages and waterway levels rising.

In Vatukoula, residents living across the Nasivi River were stranded after the causeway was flooded with swift flowing floodwaters.

In Tavua, people living near waterways began moving to higher ground after waterways began to swell as the rain fell unrelentingly.