Tropical Cyclone Tomas has passed over Fiji in the last 24 hours causing high winds, sea surges and downpours of rain. Here’s the latest from the Fiji Meteorological Service (times are local to Fiji):
Category 4 Tropical Cyclone (TC) Tomas had its centre located over Southern Lau Group (between Moala and Kabara) or about 150 km east-southeast of Suva at 3pm today.
The system has remained on a southerly course but its speed of movement has picked up to 18-20 km/hr. This may increase a little further as the system gets to Southern Lau. A slow southeast curvature in path of Tomas is expected to commence soon.
Though TC Tomas is undergoing a change in its organisation and characteristics with the “eye” of the cyclone filling up, it is still maintaining its peak intensity with estimated average winds of 90-95 knots (165-175km/hr) and momentary gust up to 125 knots (230 km/hr) close to the centre.
Damaging gale force winds extend to about 150 nautical miles (280km) from the centre. The cyclone should commence a gradual weakening trend from tonight. However, it should retain a CAT 3 Hurricane status until after leaving Fiji waters.
The “eye” and core feature of the cyclone with destructive Storm Force to very destructive Hurricane force winds are now moving over Southern Lau Group and are expected to pass On-i-Lau around midnight tonight or early tomorrow.
With the Hurricane steadily moving away from the Northern Division and Eastern Division winds there are expected to decrease further overnight with rain easing to a few showers tomorrow.
Strong winds affecting the Western Division should also decrease tonight with weather becoming mostly fine tomorrow.
Though TC Tomas should be moving away from the Fiji Group from tomorrow afternoon, heavy (4 metres or more) seas and swells generated by the cyclone should continue to traverse Fiji Waters for the next 2-3 days. Mariners need to exercise special care during the period.