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Dual cyclones threaten several Pacific countries

Source: RNZ Pacific


Two separate cyclones developing in the Pacific are threatening to impact several countries later this week, with Fiji in particular being warned to be alert.

Cyclones Yasa and Zazu were both named by authorities on Monday, the first in the South Pacific for this summer’s cyclone season.

Yasa, which had intensified into a category two storm by Monday night, was hovering in the waters between Fiji and Vanuatu.

Multiple storms gather in Pacific, Cyclone Yasa is in centre
Multiple storms gather in Pacific, Cyclone Yasa is in centre Photo: Fiji Met Service

Sakeasi Waibuta, a cyclone forecaster at the Fiji Meteorological Service, said it was being held in place by a high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, which was giving it plenty of time to gather strength.

He said it would likely be a category four storm by the time it reached close to Fiji’s main islands on Thursday.

“At the moment the track is indicating to the southwest of Fiji, but there’s a possibility that it will come straight over Viti Levu,” Waibuta said, referring to Fiji’s main island.

“We’ll have to see, eh.”

Already, authorities were warning people in low-lying areas along the country’s coasts and rivers to prepare for a severe cyclone with the potential for considerable damage.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Zazu was on Monday unleashing heavy rain on northern Tonga.

The storm – a category one – is near the Vava’u islands, where gale force winds and heavy rain had already been recorded, although there were no initial reports of damage.

Forecasters said the centre of the storm would be about 50 kilometres south southwest of Neiafu Vava’u at 7 am.

Waibuta said Zazu was expected to keep strengthening as it moved southeast.

“It’s a very small system at the moment but by the looks of it, it will intensify to a category two cyclone from early Wednesday,” he said.

“It’s got very favourable conditions to intensify, so we’re expecting a lot of rain with it.”

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Photo: Fiji Meteorological Service

Waibuta said the current track had it staying in the ocean to the northeast of Tonga’s lower islands, and to the southwest of Niue.

However, bad weather is still forecast to affect both countries, with several warnings issued.

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