Fiji battered by fierce winds, heavy rain from Tropical Cyclone Tino

Maura Kelly
This satellite image shows Tropical Cyclone Tino over the South Pacific Ocean early Saturday local time. (Photo/RAMMB)

A tropical cyclone tracking just east of Fiji will continue to bring flooding rainfall and strong wind gusts to parts of the island nation as well as Tonga into the beginning of the weekend.

An area of low pressure gradually developed in the southern Pacific Ocean over the last several days, forming a tropical low by the second half of the week.

Showers and thunderstorms tapered off across the Solomon Islands and northern Vanuatu on Thursday as the tropical low tracked east, away from the islands.

During Thursday night, local time, the storm began to turn to the southeast in an environment conducive for tropical development.

As the storm ramped up on Thursday it brought strong winds and periods of rain Rotuma, Fiji, causing damage across the island. Bouts of heavy rain can linger over the island into Saturday as recovery efforts begin.

The storm strengthened into a Category 1 tropical cyclone on the Fiji intensity scale. This is equivalent to a tropical storm in the Atlantic basin.

By late Friday night, Tino strengthened into a Category 2 cyclone, equivalent to a strong tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean, as it tracked just east of Vanua Levu.

While shower and thunderstorm activity increased across Fiji into Thursday, the heaviest rainfall arrived with Tino late Friday.

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As of late Friday night, rainfall totals of 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) are being reported across the eastern islands of the archipelago. Undu Point on the Vanua Levu island reported 118 mm (4.65 inches) of rainfall.

Tino stayed just east of the island nation through the end of the week, keeping the heaviest rainfall farther east.

However, the risk for flash flooding and mudslides will continue into the weekend as some downpours can bring an additional inch or two of rain into the weekend.

Wind gusts also increased throughout the day on Friday. Labasa on Vanua Levu reported a wind gust of 93 km/h (58 mph).

Strong winds lead to some power outages on Wallis Island, but there are no official reports of damage as of Saturday.

On Saturday, Tino strengthened into a Category 3 cyclone as it moved away from Fiji and brought heavy rain and damaging winds to Tonga.

With winds reaching 120 km/h (75 mph) in the center of the storm, this is equivalent to a strong Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tino is forecast to continue on a southeasterly path through the rest of the weekend and into the beginning of next week. As the storm moves into a harsher environment, it will gradually weaken before transitioning into a non-tropical system.


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