I phoned the family in Labasa and got through immediately to hear the lovely Fijian hymn the girl uses on her mobile. She told me the wind is already getting strong in Labasa but there isn't heavy rain. They have been told to expect the cyclone/hurricane tomorrow (Monday) so school and work will be out as the families batten down the houses to be secure. It sounds like Cyclone Tomas will be a big one, similar to Hurricane Bebe of 1972 as it moves slowly but surely towards Vanua Levu. I remember Hurricane Bebe because new babies in the family got the nicknames Bibe and Bebe that year.
Fiji Times reports as follows:
Strong winds and rain in North
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Cyclone Tomas' predicted path
Update: 10:14AM ISLANDERS on Cikobia have reported heavy rain and occasional strong gusts of wind as Cyclone Tomas moves towards the Fiji Group. At 2am Tomas was located 425km north-northeast of Udu Point where residents have also reported strong gusts of wind and heavy rain.
Similar reports have been received from Taveuni.
There have been no reports of damage.
Tomas remains on a southwesterly track at about 10km per hour and is expected to make landfall over Labasa tomorrow night.
If it does not change track, the cyclone should cut through the middle of Vanua Levu and head straight into the Koro Sea. But weather experts say that once landfall is made, Tomas could change direction. If it does not change direction, Tomas will head south through the Koro Sea towards southern Lau.
Wind and rain generated by the cyclone is expected to affect all parts of Fiji. Southeast winds are expected to intensify during the day today reaching speeds of 75km per hour over the Koro Sea by 6pm.
All residents have been advised to make final preparations while there is light available and listen for updates from DISMAC on their radios.
(Later Sunday afternoon) from Fijivillage website:
Evacuation centers opens in North
Publish date/time: 14/03/2010 [19:18]
People in Labasa have started moving to the evacuation centers. Labasa Police confirms that people have adhered to the warning and have started moving to higher grounds or evacuation centers with 39 evacuation centers being activated in the area.
Acting Director DISMAC, Pajiliai Dobui has this afternoon confirmed that all evacuation centers in the North, in the Eastern and Central Division have been activated.
In the North, some of the evacuation centers in the North include, In Macuata, they have Boubale Indian School, Coqeloa Indian School, Qelemumu Indian School, Kava Primary, Labasa College, Labasa Civic Centre, Holy Family, Naqele Secondary, Naduna Primary, Naduna Secondary, Waiqele Secondary, Korotolutolu Secondary, Solove Indian School, Seaqaqa Central College, Dreketi High School, Valelawa Primary, Kia Village Church, Mali District Church, Daku Indian School, Nubu District School.
Cakaudrove - Dawara District School in Wailevu, St Paul Catholic, Laucala AOG Church, Wailevu West District School, Bagata Church.
St Bedes College, Savusavu Secondary School, Drano village church, Nasinu District School, Naweni District School, Nagiagia Indian School, Savudrodro Community Hall, Yaroi Community Hall, Kubulau District School, Nadi District School, Nasolo village Church, Ratu Emori Village School, Vuya village School, Baravi School.
Dobui added that no help will be given to those that ask for help when the eye of the storm is over Fiji.
Please take the necessary steps now.
Official weather warning Sunday afternoon:
This is Special Weather Bulletin Number ELEVEN for Fiji ON TROPICAL CYCLONE TOMAS ISSUED FROM RSMC NADI at 4:17pm on Sunday the 14th of March 2010
A TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING IS IN FORCE FOR THE WHOLE FIJI GROUP.
SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE TOMAS CENTRE 970HPA CATEGORY 3 WAS LOCATED NEAR 13 DECIMAL 9 SOUTH 179 DECIMAL 3 WEST OR ABOUT 260KM NORTH-NORTHEAST OF UDU POINT AT 4PM TODAY. CLOSE TO ITS CENTRE THE CYCLONE IS ESTIMATED TO HAVE AVERAGE WINDS OF 120 KM/HR INCREASING TO 160 KM/HR WITH MOMENTARY GUSTS UP TO 220 KM/HR IN THE NEXT 18 TO 24 HOURS. THE CYCLONE IS INTENSIFYING AND MOVING SOUTH-SOUTHWEST AT 15 KM/HR.
DAMAGING GALE FORCE WINDS EXTEND TO ABOUT 280 KM FROM THE CYCLONE CENTRE.
FOR VANUA LEVU, TAVEUNI AND NEARBY ISLANDS AND NORTHERN LAU GROUP:
EXPECT WINDS TO STRENGHTEN AND REACH DAMAGING GALE FORCE TONIGHT WITH AVERAGE SPEEDS OF 85 KM/HR AND MOMENTARY GUSTS OF 120 KM/HR. WINDS EXPECTED TO INCREASE TO DESTRUCTIVE STORM FORCE TO VERY DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE FORCE WITH AVERAGE SPEEDS UP TO 160 KM/HR WITH MOMENTARY GUSTS UP TO 220 KM/HR TOMORROW. PERIODS OF RAIN, BECOMING FREQUENT AND HEAVY WITH SQUALLY THUNDERSTORMS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS EXPECTED.
FOR THE REST OF FIJI :
EASTERLY WINDS STRENGHTENING THIS EVENING. WINDS REACHING DAMAGING GALE FORCE WITH AVERAGE SPEEDS UP TO 85 KM/HR AND GUSTS TO 120KM/HR TOMORROW. PERIODS OF RAIN, HEAVY AT TIMES AND SQUALLY THUNDERSTORMS. ROUGH TO VERY ROUGH SEAS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS EXPECTED.
The following information is provided especially for the mariners: EXPECT WINDS OF HURRICANE FORCE AND PHENOMENAL SEAS WITHIN 30 NAUTICAL MILES OF THE CENTRE. STORM FORCE WINDS AND VERY HIGH SEAS OUT TO ABOUT 60 NAUTICAL MILES OF THE CENTRE. GALE FORCE WINDS AND HIGH SEAS OUT TO ABOUT 150 NAUTICAL MILES FROM THE CENTRE. STRONG WINDS AND VERY ROUGH SEAS GREATER THAN 150 NAUTICAL MILES AWAY FROM THE CENTRE. THE NEXT SPECIAL WEATHER BULLETIN WILL BE ISSUED AT 9.30 PM TODAY OR EARLIER.