Editorial comment: Weather warning

The flooded Nadi Back Road. Picture: FRA/SUPPLIED.

There was heavy rain around the country yesterday, forcing flash floods in some parts of Viti Levu.

By yesterday afternoon, the Fiji Meteorological Service had issued a heavy rain and damaging gale-force wind warning for the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups.

This included the Northern and Western parts of Viti Levu, Kadavu, western and northwestern parts of Vanua Levu.

As it tracks close to the group, active rain bands, the weather office stated, were expected to bring continuous heavy rain and thunderstorms over Fiji especially over Yasawa and Mamanuca groups, northern and western parts of Viti Levu, Western and interior parts of Viti Levu, Kadavu, western and northwestern parts of Vanua Levu.

“The gale force winds can cause significant damage to houses of very light materials or unshielded structures with blown roof in exposed communities.”

The weather office warned that people living along with the coastal areas, especially in the Western Division, Yasawa and Mamanuca groups, to be alert for possible coastal inundation, especially during high tides.

“Sea conditions will be extremely dangerous for sea travel, especially for small crafts and not suitable for coastal activities,” it stated.

The whole of Viti Levu may feel the effect of a Category 1 tropical cyclone from today with heavy rain and strong winds of 62 kilometres per hour to 87 kilometres per hour.

The weather office stated the cyclone will pass about 260 kilometres west-southwest of Viwa Island in the Yasawa Group at midday today. It’s not as if cyclones have just popped out of the woodworks.

We have an annual cyclone season that stretches from November through to April. We are fortunate that some years we go through without anything major.

Then there are years like 2016 when we were struck by the mega storm that was Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston. We are fortunate that we have weather experts who keep us updated on developments and what we can expect. Our challenge is how we appreciate the information, and the action we take to keep us safe.

It is encouraging that this adherence to advice has become a part of our lives and the majority of Fijians do take heed of advice and warnings. So as we anticipate severe weather changes, we should consider being proactive first. Let’s ensure our properties are protected.

Perhaps we should put aside time to do maintenance work around the house, relook at trees around the compound and trim them if there is a need, and remind ourselves to keep aside funds if we can, to stock up on essential items and food. It is important that family members are made aware of any evacuation plans and meeting points.

Being prepared will ease the level of stress and pressure families come under if the weather turns bad.

Mother nature can be unpredictable.

However, we can do a lot with prior warning. On reflection, we do know what to do and what is expected of us. We have been reminded!

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