Fiji: Battered by Cyclone Yasa with winds up to 350km/h
Cyclone Yasa made landfall in Fiji on Thursday evening (17 December, 2020) as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in Fiji with gusts up to 350km/h near the eye of the storm.
Published 2 years ago
Yasa made landfall over Bua province, on the northern island of Vanua Levu, as a Category 5 cyclone although some strength was lost through the interaction with the rugged terrain of western Vanua Levu.
The cyclone delivered torrential rain, widespread flooding and winds of up to 285 km per hour (177 miles) across the archipelago. Villages in Vanua Levu have lost a lot of houses and the wind has flattened many community buildings and crops.
The main (southern) island of Viti Levu and its populated towns and cities were spared much of the damage initially feared. Widespread heavy rain affected the northern division and the north coast of Viti Levu, both areas suffering associated river flooding and coastal inundation by way of storm surge and sea flooding.
It is estimated that 75-100 foreign yachts are in Fiji for the cyclone season, unable to proceed to NZ or Australia as they normally would at this time of year due to closed borders.
Some 50 foreign yachts took shelter in the mangroves near Port Denarau Marina, located on the west coast of Fiji’s southern island Viti Levu, where the narrow mangrove channels provided excellent protection against the winds.
Yachts in the Lau archipelago, the northern island group to the SE of Vanua Levu, were not as lucky. Reports have come in that SY Pantagruel, a 100 year old wooden yawl, sunk in Vanua Balavu. The crew all managed to get onshore and were subsequently rescued.
Yasa rapidly weakened into a category 3 system on Friday morning and continued to weaken rapidly. However, it left behind heavy rain and flooding of coastal areas and debris and animal carcasses in lagoon waters near river mouths are a significant hazard.
The overall expected path of the cyclone has shifted eastwards but has maintained its southeast movement and is heading towards Tonga.
The Island Nation of Fiji in its entirety has been declared a “State of Natural Disaster” for the next 30 days. Sea Mercy’s fleet of volunteer vessels, crews and disaster response leadership team in Fiji are standing by to assist the NDMO with emergency aid and medical team deliveries to the devastated remote island communities. Find out how you can support these efforts at this link – http://www.seamercy.org/yasa.
- Cyclone Yasa: Fiji battered by gusts up to 350km/h as storm makes landfall (NZ Herald)
- Fiji surveys damage from Cyclone Yasa — one of the strongest storms ever recorded (ABC News)
- South Pacific: Two separate cyclones developing (Noonsite Dec. 14, 2020)
- Port Denarau Marina
Noonsite has not independently verified this information.
SINKING OF SY PANTAGRUEL
On Friday morning December 18th 2020 around 09:30 local time the German flagged sailing vessel “Pantagruel” sunk in Vanua Balavu, Fiji, during the tropical cyclone Yasa. In this report the skipper describes the circumstances of the incident.