Less than two months after Tropical Cyclone Winston cut a path of destruction across Fiji, the country is bracing for the impact of another storm, the United Nations relief aid office said today.
Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Zena is predicted to bring 200 millimeters of rainfall in the next 24 hours, presenting a significant flood risk, particularly along rivers and the southern coast of Viti Levu, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Many rivers in Fiji's west and south are already flooded after heavy rainfall over recent days and this system will only compound the flood danger. Soil is saturated and any new rain will run off immediately, further adding to the existing inundation that has already closed roads and prompted warnings for the public to stay away from waterways.
Zena and associated rainfall will add to the distress being experienced by thousands of people across Fiji who remain in transitional shelter since Winston, a Category 5 storm, hit in February.
In response to the recent days' events, a total of 79 evacuation centres have been opened with 3,592 people taking shelter there. All schools have been closed for the day. The Fiji Met Service and National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) are sending out regular updates and the ongoing State of Natural Disaster means the NDMO still has its coordination system activated. A Pacific Humanitarian Team Meeting was scheduled this afternoon by OCHA to discuss the situation.
As of this morning, Zena was located about 740 kilometers west of Nadi. Close to its centre, the cyclone is estimated to have average winds of 95 kilometers per hour and gusts to 130 kilometers per hour.
The cyclone was moving east-southeast at 34 kilometers per hour and was still intensifying. On this track, it is predicted to pass south of the main island of Viti Levu in the early hours of Thursday morning, passing directly over the island of Kadavu.
While the cyclone is not expected to pass directly over Suva, it is currently expected to bring sustained winds of 100 kilometers per hour with squalls to 150 kilometers per hour from the early hours of Thursday morning onwards.
These winds may affect weak structures across the greater Suva urban area and may take down trees not already brought down by Winston.