Pacific Ocean, Fiji: First Cyclone of the South Pacific Season Forming off Fiji

What could be the first cyclone of the South Pacific Cyclone season is shaping up northwest of Fiji and is forecast to bring gale-force winds, heavy rain and strong swells to the western part of the island group.

Published 5 years ago

Forecast track of the tropical depression to the west of the Fiji Island chain at December 26, 2019 (c) Fiji Met Service.

Latest Update from Fiji Met Service – December 26, 2019

The current Tropical Depression TD03F is expected to move south-southwest and pass Rotuma Island on December 27th bringing strong winds with gusts up to 65km/h.  The depression is expected to gradually intensify into a category one tropical cyclone this evening with wind speeds gusting up to 95km/h.

Strong winds, high seas with damaging northerly swells, heavy rain and squally thunderstorms are forecast for the western parts of Vanua Levu, Viti Levu, the Yasawa, and Mamanuca Group and nearby smaller islands.

Port Denarau Marina on Cyclone Alert
December 24, 2019

According to the Fiji Meteorological Service, forecast models currently suggest the likely route of the tropical depression/cyclone will be south down the western side of the Yasawa island chain and then onto the west coast of Viti Levu.

Port Denarau Marina which is a popular destination for cruisers situated on the west coast of Viti Levu has already begun to implement a Hurricane Evacuation Plan.

Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Rasch said as at December 24th, the expected track of the cyclone was for a direct hit on the marina.

Satellite image from December 23 showing the weather pattern northwest of Fiji. (c) Fiji Met Service

“Therefore the marina will be evacuating by Thursday, December 26th and marina employees have been called back in from holidays to haulout vessels and prepare the property for evacuation,” she said.

“All preparations should be completed by the end of the day on the 26th with the expectation of strong and damaging winds to hit the marina and surrounding areas by Friday morning.”

The formation of a tropical depression is now visible on satellite images for the Fiji area.  It is currently slow-moving in water temperatures of 28 – 29 degrees C but circulation is currently being slowed by high wind shear over the entire area.

Fiji Meteorological Service website reports on Tuesday, December 24th that global models are picking up this system and gradually moving it southwards with further deepening and intensifying into a tropical cyclone. 

The potential for the system to develop into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours is moderate to high.


Related Links:

Fiji:  Preparing for the 2019/2020 Cyclone Season

Fiji Meteorological Service

World Meteorological Service – Severe Weather Information Centre

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