(From Local Newspaper) Fiji Hit By Heavy Rains And Flooding As Tropical Depression Approaches Country
Fiji will likely be spared the worst of a tropical depression that's formed over the country.
Heavy rain over the past two days has brought flooding to several parts of the main island of Viti Levu, including the capital Suva.
At 6am local time, the tropical depression was located about 170 kilometers north-northeast of Labasa, and was moving north-east at about 14 kilometers an hour.
The director of Fiji Bureau of Meteorology, Alipate Waqaicelua, says their remains a risk of the depression intensifying as it crosses Fiji.
"We're now focusing on this tropical depression - it's projected to come down over the Fiji group later tonight and early tomorrow, and expected to leave the Fiji group tomorrow," he said.
"Indications are it will possibly become a tropical cyclone later Saturday, early Sunday, and by that time it should be on its way out of Fiji.
"If it does come South over Fiji group, it's bound to bring more rain, but hopefully not the winds associated with it."
Climate advisor to the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Neville Koop says the tropical depression is still likely to form into a cyclone, which is now expected to hit Tonga.
"We could see a cyclone out of this depression - the good new for Fiji is that it won't probably occur until it has moved away form the Fiji region towards Tonga -which is not so good news for Tonga," he said.
"In Fiji we have been spared he worst of any destructive winds - there's just been very heavy rain."
Category Five Tropical Cyclone Ian storm devastated the northern Tongan islands of Ha'apai last month, leaving one person dead and more than a thousand buildings destroyed.
Rain and flood warnings
There are flood warnings on the main island of Viti Levu, and officials say the current high tide could cause extra problems.
Schools have closed and non-essential government staff have been told to stay home.
Mr. Koop says the weather in Fiji isn't expected to clear until late Saturday.
"Most of the heavy rain we experienced over the last two days has eased...but there's still quite a bit of heavy rain in the north, which will bring flooding to parts of the north," he said.
"Most of the rivers remain high, if not over their banks, so it won't take much further rain to bring more flooding.
"We are expecting more rain to come later today and we anticipate there will be further flooding out of this situation."
Manasa Tagicakibau, the director of Fiji's Disaster Management Office, said the most populated areas are the hardest hit.
"People are prepared in terms of taking heed of the warnings they've been given meaning that they were moved to safer ground," he said.
Fiji's Ministry of Information says schools will remain closed on Friday and government employees should remain home until further notice.
Mr. Tagicakibau said a number of evacuation centers have been opened and people are moving in.
On its Facebook page, the Ministry of Information says unnecessary travel is discouraged, while transport and road accessibility may be limited.
It advised people to store essential items including boiled drinking water and keep a first aid kit within reach.
Flooding in Fiji