As of shortly after 09:00 (local time) on Tuesday, February 13, Cyclone Gita was located approximately 130 km (81 mi) east-southeast of the Fijian island of Ono-i-Lau and 500 km (311 mi) east-southeast of Kadavu. The storm was moving westward at around 25 km/h (16 mph), packing maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h (121 mph).
Gita is expected to track south of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu in the coming hours. However, the storm is expected to intensify and affect the southern Lau Islands by Tuesday afternoon or evening, bringing winds of around 195 km/h (121 mph) with higher gusts of up to 275 km/h (170 mph), as well as heavy rains and coastal flooding to Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa. Both Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa are currently under hurricane warnings. Storm warnings (a lower alert level than hurricane warnings) were in effect on Tuesday morning for the rest of the Lau archipelago. The rest of Fiji remains under lesser gale warnings or strong wind warnings.
Flooding, wind damages, and consequent transportation disruptions and power outages are expected in the most affected areas of Fiji in the coming hours and days.
Cyclone Gita brought severe flooding and associated damages in Samoa and American Samoa before striking Tonga and leaving widespread damages. Samoa has declared a state of emergency, and US President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration for American Samoa on February 11.
Cyclone season in the region typically lasts from November to April but storms can occur outside this period.
Individuals present in Fiji are advised to monitor local weather reports and follow all instructions as issued by local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders). Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult - and that floodwater may contain wastewater or chemical products; all items having come into contact with the water should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
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