Winston peters out… Northland relieved

A clever tweet (it does happen sometimes):

Cyclone Winston versus Fiji

Fiji could be in for a rough time as Cyclone Winston tracks west between the two main islands.

It has already created havoc inn Tonga before turning back on itself and heading towards Fiji.

Metservice say that when measuring wind speeds over 1 minute, Winston is now the strongest cyclone ever recorded in southern hemisphere.

Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston is now the strongest tropical cyclone and the first Category 5 TC on record to hit Fiji. TC Winston is also the 11th Category 5 storm east of Australia since 1970.

Metservice

Fijivillage reports Very destructive winds as TC Winston continues to intensify

Tropical Cyclone Winston continues to strengthen as the eye of the cyclone makes its way between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

The eye of the cyclone which is still a category 5 system was located 175 kilometres North East of Suva earlier this afternoon.

Winds have intensified in a number of areas in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

Close to the centre, the cyclone is estimated to have average winds of 230 kilometres per hour to 325 kilometres per hour.

Very destructive winds will begin several hours before the cyclone centre passes overhead or nearby.

It has already caused damage in Fiji:

Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Vanuabalavu early this morning.

A resident in Vanuabalavu spoke to Fijivillage via a satellite phone from Nabavatu and said that some houses were badly damaged early this morning and people rushed to other houses to seek shelter.

She said that her house which was one of the most substantial structures on the island was destroyed.

She has termed Tropical Cyclone Winston as a terrible monster.

Vanuabalavu is a smaller island lying to the east of the two biggest islands, which are due to bear the brunt of the cyclone over the next few hours.

UPDATES:

#BREAKING Fiji is imposing a “total public curfew” across the whole country #TCWinston#CycloneWinston

Breaking: Fiji’s government has declared a 30 day nationwide state of emergency with reports of #CycloneWinston causing extensive damage

Weatherwatch: Landfall – Category 5 Cyclone Winston directly hits Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island

The storm veered further south than expected in the past two hours, bringing it further in to Fiji’s main island.

The Fiji Met Service says the storm remains at 917hPa with winds sustained at 230km/h gusting 325km/h.  Global models out of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (US Govt) says winds are even higher, but say it should now start weakening.

Waves around the eyewall are 12 metres high at sea, and may be higher as they move in. Coastal flooding is expected.

Very destructive winds will now be moving in says WeatherWatch.co.nz – north of Suva. “The centre of the storm is now tracking directly towards Nadi – but the mountains of Fiji may help weaken the system now that the eye is no longer feeding off the warm sea” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.

“The centre of Cyclone Winston is likely to track very near, or possibly even over, Nadi around dawn, which is concerning to the many people there”.

This is an extremely serious situation – this is Fiji’s strongest storm in recorded history.