Fiji Under Tropical Cyclone Alert As Category 2 Ella Moves Closer To Country

Samoa, Tonga feeling impacts from rare out-of-season storm

By Felix Chaudhary And Mere Naleba

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 11, 2017) – A Tropical Cyclone alert has been issued for the Lau and Lomaiviti Groups, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands by the Fiji Meteorological Service.

Tropical Cyclone Ella was located about 500km east-northeast of Vanuabalavu or 655km east-northeast of Labasa at 3pm yesterday. The Category 1 storm was moving closer to the country and expected to intensify into a Category 2 system last night.

[PIR editor's note: On May 11, 2017 Fiji Times reported that 'Tropical Cyclone Ella has intensified overnight and is now a Category 2 system, says the Fiji Meteorological Service. ... In a statement issued this morning, the Nadi Weather Office said as of 6am, TC Ella was located near 14.4 degree South latitude and 176.4 degree West longitude or about 430km East-northeast of Vanuabalavu or 450km East-northeast of Udu Point.']

In a statement yesterday, the Nadi Weather Office said a strong wind warning remained in force for the Lau and Lomaiviti groups, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands.

"Expect strong southeast winds with an average speed of 45km/hr, gusting to 80km/hr. For the rest of Fiji, expect moderate to fresh south to southeast winds."

The Fiji Met Service said mariners especially had to take care.

"A strong wind warning remains in force for all Fiji waters.

"Expect rough seas with east to southeast winds 20 to 30 knots, gusting to 40 knots."

People in Kadavu, the Lomaiviti Group and the eastern parts and interior of the larger islands should expect occasional showers and a few thunderstorms while other parts of the country should expect showers and thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon and evening.

[PIR editor's note: On May 11, 2017 Samoa Observer reported that 'The heavy rainfall that Samoa is experiencing is due to Tropical Cyclone Ella. ']

The Fiji Met Service said the cyclone would be closely monitored and updates would be provided as significant changes were observed.

"All communities should remain prepared at all times, take necessary precautions when alerts, warnings and advisories are issued.

"Always keep updated with the latest weather bulletins and seek further advice if necessary.

"For more details and the latest on weather, please contact the National Weather Forecasting Centre on 6736006, 9905376 or visit the Fiji Meteorological Service's website,"

Meanwhile, families still living in tents on the Island of Vanuabalavu were relocated to evacuation centres last night.

Villagers at Muamua Village living in tents last night were relocated to the church and Fisheries Department at Malaka Village.

Corporal Lasarusa Colati said police were still yet to receive the number of evacuees who have left their homes and were due to make another round to evacuation centres at 8pm. Cpl Colati said a family of Narocivo Village were camped at Adi Maopa Primary School last night.

As of 7.38pm yesterday, Vanuabalavu was experiencing strong winds but no rain.

[PIR editor's note: On May 10, 2017 Matangi Tonga reported that 'It is unusual to see so many cyclones in the South Pacific at this time of the year, says Tonga's Director of Meteorology, 'Ofa Fa'anunu today, as northern Tonga remains on a Warning for Tropical Cyclone Ella. ... Tonga's cyclone season usually runs from November to April. ... "Although uncommon, cyclones do form outside the cyclone season. The last one was Severe Tropical Cyclone Keli in June 1997," said 'Ofa.']

Fiji Times Online.
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