Major Storm Slams Fiji

  • A visible satellite image of Cyclone Winston captured on 19th February at 01:15 UTC, as the storm approaches Fiji (centre left). Image: NASA

    A graphic taken from, showing where Winston has tracked (solid grey line) and where the storm is forecast to go (white line).

  • Major Storm Slams Fiji
    20.02.2016 16:00


    A major tropical cyclone is currently slamming in to Fiji, the small cluster of islands lying in the southern Pacific Ocean. 

    The storm, named Winston, has taken a rather unusual path since it developed around 10 days ago, circling the islands before directly hitting more northern areas of the country on Saturday (20th Feb). 

    It is believed that the storm is not only the strongest ever system to strike Fiji but also the strongest ever recorded storm in the southern hemisphere , equal to that of a category five hurricane (the strongest in the Saffir-Simpson scale). 

    Winston moved amongst the islands of Fiji early Saturday morning (UK time) and is expected to continue drifting west, at around 16mph, through the rest of the day. Its predicted path takes it further west through the course of Sunday then takes it on a more southerly path (not for the first time in its life) before losing much of its energy and indeed its identity from around this coming Thursday, 25th February. 

    Winds, as the cyclone piled in to the islands, saw sustained speeds around the storm’s centre of around 180mph with maximum gusts approaching 220mph. Flooding is also expected around coastal areas, thanks to a storm surge combining with large waves,  as well as inland flooding brought about by the large amounts of rain that will fall. With this rainfall, and what with the islands being mountainous, there is a high risk of landslides too. 

    At present, reports coming from Fiji are limited with communications down due to the storm. However, from what has been reported, the news does not sound good with large-scale damage and thus far, one confirmed fatality. 

    The tropical storm season runs from November 1st through to the end of April. Due to a strong El Nino and how it has led to higher-than-usual sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, the number of storms is forecast to be above average. With this in mind and as Winston begins to lose its grip overnight Saturday (UK time), there remains plenty of time for further storms to develop and impact these remote tropical islands through what remains of the tropical cyclone season.

    Remember, you can see the latest forecast track of Winston and any other tropical storms via our MeteoEarth website and App.

    By: Gareth Harvey