I could not get through by phone to Labasa this morning but a family member in Suva did and he was told that the wind is easing in Labasa now. Of course the rivers will still be rising up in Macuata and there will be flooding.
The main hurricane storm seems to be focussed now on Lomaiviti islands and the Lau group where villages by the sea are vulnerable. Suva is apparently experiencing some strong wind but not hurricane force. Some evacuation centres set up in the Western side of Viti Levu etc. seem to be an over-reaction as they are far away from the hurricane. I read that the eye of the hurricane passed over Laucala Island near Taveuni but I suppose those beautiful resort bungalows would have been strong enough to withstand the wind which sounds just like a jet plane warming up and is very scary.
There is still a curfew in some places, I suppose to provide a sense of order by the powers-that-be, to stop looting, and to stop people doing foolish things like deciding to go swimming or fishing. I don't think much of the Fiji Meteorological website as the messages are in jargon that the lay-person just cannot understand.
from Fiji Village this morning:
Tomas heads towards the Lau group
Publish date/time: 16/03/2010 [10:01]
A hurricane warning remains in force for the Eastern quarter of Vanua Levu, Rabi, Kioa, Taveuni, Qamea, Laucala, Naitauba, Yacata, Kanacea, Mago, Cicia, Batiki, Matuku, Totoya and nearby smaller islands.
A storm warning is in force for Cikobia, the Eastern half of Vanua Levu, Koro, Gau, Vanuabalavu, Nayau, Lakeba, Kabara and nearby smaller islands.
A gale warning remains in force for the Eastern half of Viti Levu, Beqa, kadavu and the rest of the Lau and Lomaiviti group.
A strong wind warning is in force for the rest of the Fiji group.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Tomas centre Category 4 was located near 17 decimal 1 South, 179 decimal 6 West or about 130km East Southeast of Labasa or 240 kilometers East North East of Suva at 5:30 this morning.
Close to its centre, Tomas is estimated to have average winds of 175 kilometers per hour increasing to 200 kilometers per hour within the next 12 hours with momentary gusts up to 270 kilometers per hour.
The hurricane is intensifying and moving South at 10 kilometers per hour.
On this track, the cyclone centre is expected to be located about 195 kilometers East Southeast of Suva or 110 kilometers west Southwest of Lakeba at 6pm today and about 270 kilometers South Southwest of Lakeba or 360 kilomerters Southeast of Suva at 6am tomorrow.
The Nadi weather office explained that the system is quite large and the area that the hurricane is covering is quite large. The radius of the system from the eye is about 120 kilometers and people need to take this into account.