Tropical Cyclone Ella brings rain, flooding to Fiji

The extended southern hemisphere cyclone season continues with another storm in the South Pacific.

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    The tropical cyclone season in the southern hemisphere is supposed to end on April 30. We now have two storms that have developed since that date.

    Last week we had Tropical Cyclone Donna passing between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The remnants of the storm have just cleared the North Island of New Zealand, dumping some very heavy rain.

    Auckland had 56mm of rain on Friday. That's almost half the May average which is 127mm.

    Donna was a remarkable storm not only coming so late in the year, but in being so strong. It was equivalent to a Category 4 Atlantic hurricane.

    Tropical Cyclone Ella is notably weaker, but even now it remains powerful enough to do significant damage with some very dangerous winds.

    Ella is currently located around 500 kilometres to the north of the Fiji capital, Suva. The storm has sustained winds of 120 kilometres per hour with gusts approaching 150km/h.

    That would still rate as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Again, this is remarkable when you consider that the southern hemisphere cyclone season was due to close two weeks ago.  

    The storm is expected to be downgraded to a tropical cyclone on Saturday afternoon as it heads towards Port Vila in Vanuatu.

    The rain will be the main concern regardless. Ella has been producing some staggering totals. Apia in Samoa had 263mm of rain in the 24 hours up to 00:00GMT on Saturday.

    Fiji will escape the worst of the rain as it is expected to stay to the north of the islands. By the time it reaches Vanuatu it will be no more than a decaying area of low pressure, still producing heavy rain over already saturated ground.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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