Fijians are being urged to prepare their families now as Tropical Depression 03F intensified into a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone Sarai overnight and there is now a strong wind warning and heavy rain warning in place for the Fiji islands.
The Nadi Weather Office said Friday Cyclone Sarai is expected to move south and the center should be about 260 km west of Yasawa-i-Rara or about 180 km West NorthWest of Nadi, the third largest city of Fiji.
Tropical Cyclone Sarai continues to move at 35km/hour and was located about 200km northwest of Viwa or about 300km northwest of Nadi on Friday.
On the projected path, the cyclone is expected to move south and the center should be about 110 km west of Viwa or about 170 km west-northwest of Nadi.
Close to its center, the cyclone is expected to have average winds of up to 65km/hr with momentary gusts to 90km/hr.
In the meantime, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Fiji has confirmed that there will be unplanned disruption to travel in the country as Fiji Airways and Fiji Link have cancelled some flights.
Goundar Shipping Services, Interlink Shipping Line Limited and Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Limited have cancelled all their trips until further notice. South Sea Cruises has also cancelled all day cruises within the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands.
The Mamanuca islands are a volcanic archipelago lying to the west of Nadi and to the south of the Yasawa islands, a popular tourist destination that consists of about 20 islands, but about seven of these are covered by the Pacific Ocean at high tide.
All four Divisional Emergency Operation Centers have been activated and NDMO director Vasiti Soko said all evacuation centers are also on standby.
Soko said they are sharing information with stakeholders like the Fiji police, the army and the Navy who are on standby.
Two tropical cyclones are expected to affect the South Pacific island nation of Fiji this cyclone season.
The Fiji Meteorological Service released its forecast for the cyclone season between November 2019 and April 2020, saying that of the two tropical cyclones anticipated, one may reach category 3 or stronger intensity while up to eight tropical cyclones are expected to occur in an area covering the Solomon Islands to French Polynesia.
The peak period for cyclone is usually from January to March, but historical records show that tropical cyclones have occasionally formed in the region outside the official cyclone season, including May, June, July, September and October.
Therefore, it is critically important that all communities are prepared and remain vigilant at all times.
When tropical cyclones move over or pass close to the Fiji islands, the risks that are likely during such events are damaging winds, heavy rain which leads to flooding and landslides and storm surge that can result in sea flooding of low-lying coastal areas.
In 2016, Fiji was hit by tropical cyclone Winston, which killed 44 people and caused extensive damages to the island state.
Fijians are advised to take serious heed of tropical cyclone alerts, warnings and advisories whenever issued to reduce the risk on life, livelihoods and property.