Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

Washington: Tropical Cyclone Yasa, currently the strongest storm on Earth, is headed for a potentially devastating landfall in Fiji today.

The storm on Thursday morning, local time, had sustained winds estimated at 250 kilometres per hour, which makes it the equivalent of a Category 5 storm. It threatens to cause damage on the scale of Tropical Cyclone Winston, which caused widespread destruction when it hit in 2016.

Satellite image of Category 5 Cyclone Yasa.

Satellite image of Category 5 Cyclone Yasa.Credit:CIRA/RAMMB

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre is forecasting the storm to pass between the main islands of Fiji, but close enough to bring its fiercest winds and heaviest rains to the main island of Viti Levu as well as Vanua Levu and some smaller islands. It’s possible, though, that the eye of the storm will came ashore in one or more islands, which could increase the threat of storm surge flooding as well as catastrophic winds and major flooding.

The nation of 600,000 is a small target in a large ocean, and has seen just one landfall of a Category 3 storm or stronger, which was Winston. More recently, Cyclone Harold also hit Fiji, after hammering the small island nation of Vanuatu. Only three storms of Category 3 intensity or greater have passed near Fiji.

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