High alert

TROPICAL Cyclone Keni will not only bring heavy rain and strong wind, but coastal inundation caused by the combined effect of wind stress, heavy swells, storm surges and unusually high tides of at least 1.8 metres.

The Fiji Meteorological Service has advised people living along the Northern, Western and Southern division coastlines to remain vigilant as sea flooding would pose a huge risk to lives and homes.

TC Keni, which had intensified to a Category 2 storm yesterday evening was expected to be 270km west southwest of Viwa or 320km west of Nadi at 3am today.

By 3pm today it will be 80km south-west of Kadavu or about 170km south-southwest of Suva.

The weather office anticipates TC Keni to have average winds of 85km/hr with momentary gusts to 120km/hr.

According to FMS director Ravind Kumar, residents in south-west Viti Levu, from Nadi through Sigatoka to the Coral Coast, could expect winds increasing to damaging gale force with average speed of 85km/hr and momentary gusts to 120km/hr from this morning.

He said winds could strengthen to destructive storm force with average speed of 100km/hr and momentary gusts to 140km/hr from mid-morning today.

Mr Kumar said strong wind could also damage well-built framed homes, blow away roofs, uproot trees and destroy shallow rooted crops, cause loose objects to fly, damage electricity lines and poles, damage water and infrastructure.

Yesterday, businesses closed shops early, flights in and out of Fiji were either delayed or cancelled and tourist charters from island resorts halted temporarily as the country braced for TC Keni. Heavy rainfall in parts of the west also washed away bridges, rendering many parts of rural communities inaccessible.

Rising flood waters also forced people out of their homes and into evacuation centres around the West.

The Fiji Roads Authority reported some roads closed. About 46 roads in the West, 16 in the North and one road in the Central Division, were closed yesterday.

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