Tropical Cyclone Mal: ‘Likely to intensify’ into category 3 as Fiji prepares for ‘worst case scenario’

By Kelvin Anthony of and is republished with permission

The Fiji Meteorological Service says Tropical Cyclone Mal is “likely to intensify” into a category 3 system as it approaches the Fiji Group on Tuesday night.

Tropical Cyclone Mal threat map at 12pm on Tuesday, 14 November. Photo: Fiji Meteorological Service

“The current analysis indicates that destructive Category 3 winds are likely to be confined close to the centre of the system over open waters,” the weather office said.

“However, if the system moves closer to the land areas in comparison to the current expected path, hurricane force winds could also be experienced over the land areas.

“Gale to storm force winds are expected over the land areas of Yasawa and Mamanuca Groups from later this afternoon or evening and spread over the rest of the country overnight, especially over western and southern Viti Levu, Vatulele, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands.”

A heavy rain and flash flood warning remains in force for the low-lying and flood prone areas across all of Viti Levu.

The Fiji Roads Authority is also reporting several roads and crossings affected from flooding.

Controlled movement

In a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) director Vasiti Soko said cyclone Mal would move closer to the western part of Fiji in the next few hours.

“As it moves closer to Fiji, there is high possibility that it will likely intensify as it approaches the Fiji Group tonight. As TC Mal approaches the western division rainfall will continue to increase. The system will pass through Fiji later tomorrow,” she said.

She said Fiji Met Service has also confirmed that although Category 2, members of the public should brace for windspeeds of 120km/h from Tuesday afternoon.

“High tidal waves measuring nine metres in open waters is anticipated and around four metres is expected in our coastal areas. Therefore, making coastal communities very vulnerable for coastal inundation. Most activities are expected overnight.”

Soko confirmed the Emergency Committee has decided that “there will be controlled movement in place from 6pm today (Tuesday) to 4am (Wednesday) for high risk areas”.

“In other words we will work closely with Fiji Police to limit the movement of people during this period to ensure safety of our people,” she said, adding that is not a curfew but “police coming coming in to control moving of people with regard to their safety”.

“We are preparing for the worst case scenario.

“If there’s is something that we want to achieve out of this – is no fatality. We are trying our best to have no loss of lives from this controlled movement.”

Soko said there are eight evacuation centres active with almost 300 evacuees residing across the central, western and eastern divisions.

“Each of these evacuation centres is manned by two police officers – one male and one female – are always on standby to ensure safety of our vulnerable groups.”

She said businesses in the capital had also confirmed that they would cease all operations.

Schools have been closed for Tuesday and Wednesday with external exams for Year 12 and 13 postponed to next week.

Public servants have been instructed to work from home and the Fijian government has confirmed that it has paid the salaries of all government workers in advance.

“Civil servants can now access their pay from midday [Tuesday], 14 November. This includes both established salary staff and government wage earners,” Finance Ministry permanent secretary Shiri Gounder said.

Nausori health centre down

The Health Ministry said the Nausori Health Centre outpatient department has been “temporarily suspended”.

“Patients seeking outpatient care should visit Wainibokasi Hospital, which is open 24 hours a day, or Nakasi Health Centre, which is open until 8pm at night,” it said in a statement.

“Emergency Cases and Maternity Cases only will continue to be seen at the Nausori Health Centre Maternity Unit foyer.

“Health facilities that are open at this time in the Nausori and Nasinu areas: Makoi Health Centre (open until 10pm daily) and Valelevu Health Centre (open 24hrs daily).

“For medical emergencies, members of the public in the Nausori and Nasinu areas are encouraged to go to their nearest health facility for immediate medical care.”

Evac centres on standby

FBC News reports over 450 evacuation centres are on standby.

Commissioner Western Apolosi Lewaqai told the state broadcaster that 70 percent of the centres “are established within schools, demonstrating a community-wide effort to provide safe havens for those who may be affected by the impending cyclone”.

“For our families, parents, we note that there will be no school for the next two days. We ask that you please monitor and supervise your children. And for the general public for those that are in the low-lying areas, we kindly request you to please start moving while it’s still daylight,” he said.Tropical Cyclone Mal strengthens to category 2 systemFiji has its first tropical cyclone for the season, a category-one systemBridges and crossings flooded – Fiji braces for cyclone

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