Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Evan bearing down on Fiji
Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Evan is closing in on the main island of Fiji, where hurricane warnings are flying and torrential rains are already falling. Radar images from Fiji show that the large eye of Evan is just north of the two main islands of Fiji. The expected southwesterly track of the storm should keep the calm of the eye just north of Fiji, though the southern eyewall may brush the north coast of the main island of Vici Leva, affecting the tourist town of Nadi. Evan has intensified today to its strongest level yet, with 120 mph winds, and satellite loops show that the storm remains well-organized, with plenty of intense heavy thunderstorm activity and a prominent eye. Evan will be in a region with moderate wind shear of 15 - 20 knots as it approaches Fiji, and could intensify by another 5 - 10 mph before making its closest pass to the islands later today. According to NOAA's Coastal Services Center, Evan is the strongest tropical cyclone to threaten Fiji since Tropical Cyclone Daman of December 2007. Dating back to 1972, twelve Category 3 or stronger tropical cyclones have threatened the Republic of Fiji.
Figure 1. Radar image from the Fiji weather service showing the large eye of Tropical Cyclone Evan just north of Fiji.
Severe damage in Samoa from Evan
Evan made landfall on the north shore of Samoa near the capital of Apia on Thursday as a Category 1 cyclone with 90 mph winds, and intensified into a Category 3 storm with 115 mph after the eye wandered back offshore late Thursday. Media reports indicate that Evan killed four and has left eight missing on Samoa, and left at least 4,000 homeless. The main power plant for Samoa was destroyed, and it is expected that power will be out to almost all of Samoa for at least ten more days. Evan was one of Samoa's most destructive tropical cyclones on record, as discussed by wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.
Figure 2. True-color MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Evan nearing Fiji at 01:35 UTC December 16, 2012. At the time, Evan was a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.