Editorial comment – Cyclone season warning

Namacu Village in Koro island was severely damaged by Cyclone Winston in 2016. Picutre: JONA KONATACI

We have been warned to expect being hit by one to three tropical cyclones from November 2021 to April 2022. One of these systems, we have been warned, could be a severe system.

This is the warning the Fiji Meteorological Service in its 2021/22 Tropical Cyclone outlook released on Tuesday.

The Western Division, we now learn, could face an “elevated risk”.

Average tropical cyclone activity for Fiji, we are told, is likely this season, with one to three tropical cyclones likely to pass through Fiji’s exclusive economic zone.

The weather office stated an analysis of past cyclone tracks showed that a greater number of tropical cyclones which affected Fiji in seasons similar to the present, passed through the Western Division.

“Hence, there is an elevated risk of tropical cyclone activity in the Western Division. Similarly, TCs also affected other parts of Fiji in seasons similar to present in the past. Therefore, all parts of Fiji should be equally prepared for the coming tropical cyclone season,” it stated.

Now that we are aware of the weather forecast, it falls on us to be prepared.

This is when we take heed of alerts, warnings and advisories issued by both the Fiji Meteorological Service and the National Disaster Management Office.

Think about it, no one would have thought about the impact a Category 5 system such as Winston could have on our nation. Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston went past us in a blaze of fury and power in 2016.

By the time it left Fiji, there was death and destruction along the path it cut through our islands.

The power Winston unleashed on the country was shocking. Picking up strength after Tonga, Winston developed into a massive Category 5 system that was frightening.

At first the projected path curved through the Lau Group and pointed to the southwest of Viti Levu. It was expected to pass pretty close to the Capital City.

But Winston picked up power, and fury, and moved straight to the West, cutting through Lau, Lomaiviti, and brushing over Ra before curving down south again.

It flattened houses, uprooted trees, blew away roofs, there was flooding, and there were frightened people, and death.

Packed with average winds of up to 220km an hour and momentary gusts of up to 315km an hour close to its centre, Winston, a fully-fledged Cat 5 megastorm swept through Koro Island, destroying 315 homes.

The village of Sinuvaca for instance, looked like a battleground, flattened by the severe storm.

So today, let us remind ourselves about our cyclone season. Let us be prepared. We have been warned.

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