Tropical Cyclone Ana lashed Fiji with strong winds and a deluge of rain this weekend. As residents begin rescue and recovery efforts, AccuWeather meteorologists warn another storm may follow quickly behind.
After developing into a tropical cyclone early Friday morning, local time, Ana continued to drift south toward Fiji. By Sunday, the storm strengthened into a Category 2 tropical cyclone on the Fiji intensity scale as it passed near the Yasawa Islands and made landfall over Viti Levu.
Ana was equivalent to a strong tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale used in the Atlantic tropical basin as it made landfall.
This satellite image shows three tropical cyclones spinning over the South Pacific Ocean early Monday morning, local time. (CIRA/RAMMB)
On Sunday night, local time, Ana strengthened into a severe tropical cyclone as it began moving away from Fiji, reaching Category 3 tropical cyclone strength. This is equivalent to a strong Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.
As of Sunday night, local time, one death has been blamed on Cyclone Ana after a man drowned in floodwaters from the storm. At least five people are missing, including a toddler.
— Fiji Police Media (@fiji_force) January 31, 2021
Cyclone Ana drenched the area with tropical rainfall with rainfall amounts of 3-6 inches (75-150 mm) reported across the islands from Saturday to Sunday.
Rakiraki, located on the northern coast of Viti Levu near where Ana made landfall, reported 11.18 inches (284 mm) of rain in just 48 hours.
This amount of rainfall in a short period of time and in an area that has been hard-hit by tropical downpours in recent weeks quickly lead to widespread flooding. Over 7,612 people are taking shelter in 204 evacuation centers across Fiji, according to a local report.
Rivers across the islands surged over their banks, including the Rewa River which flooded a nearby park. In Savusavu, 16 people were rescued when floodwaters filled their homes after the Bagata River burst its banks.
Officials expect more damage reports to emerge once Ana moves farther away and recovery efforts pick up.
Officials urged residents to stay home if possible and to avoid the dangers of wading and driving into floodwaters. To help with this, schools have closed nationwide and will remain closed until further notice.
Cyclone Ana will continue to drift to the south in the coming days. The storm will gradually weaken as it moves into an area of strong wind shear.
Wind shear, or the change in wind speed and direction at different levels in the atmosphere, is one of the main factors in determining if a tropical system can strengthen or lose intensity.
Rain and wind will continue to wane across Fiji through the beginning of the week as Ana moves away. Although, the calmer conditions may not last long as another tropical system is lingering nearby.
Tropical Cyclone Bina organized to the north of Fiji on Sunday night, local time, as a Category 1 cyclone on the Fiji Scale, or a tropical storm equivalent on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.
By Monday, Bina quickly weakened into a tropical depression as it tracked over cooler water stirred up by Cyclone Ana and continues to compete for energy with Cyclone Lucas, located to the south of the Solomon Islands.
While Bina will struggle to reach tropical cyclone intensity again, any left over moisture can drift south and bring downpours to Fiji by the middle of the week.
To the west, Lucas is a Category 2 cyclone on the Australian Intensity Scale and is forecast to strengthen as it moves toward Vanuatu and New Caledonia into the middle of the week.
Cyclone Ana is the second tropical cyclone to impact the islands in just over a month. Cyclone Yasa reached Category 5 strength before tracking over the area in December.
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