Fiji, Tonga - Tropical Cyclone Keni

11 Apr 2018

Tropical Cyclone Keni continues to strengthen as it approaches tracks east-southeast in the South Pacific Ocean the afternoon of April 10. As of 1500 FJT, the storm's center of circulation was 187 km (116 miles) south of Nadi, Fiji. The cyclone has tracked closer to land than previously forecast, and landfall is possible in the Kadavu Group of islands in southern Fiji the afternoon of April 10. Keni is forecast to strengthen further as it tracks southeastward toward Tonga but will turn southward early April 11, and no landfall is projected for the country. The cyclone will then begin to weaken as it moves into waters northeast of New Zealand, eventually becoming an extra-tropical low; however, the system's path could change in the coming days. 

The following weather warnings are in effect: 
Hurricane Warning: Southwest Viti Levu, from Sigatoka to Navua, Vatulele, Beqa, Kadavu Groups of islands, Moala, Totoya, Matuku, and Ono-i-Lau 
Storm Warning: Viti Levu, Yasawa Group of islands, Lomaiviti Group of islands, and southern Lau Group 
Gale Warning: Vanua Levu, Tavenui, and northern Lau Group 

The Fiji Meteorological Service has issued heavy rainfall and cyclone warnings for the entire country. Though Keni remains a Category 1-equivalent storm, the system could bring wind gusts as high as 185 kph (115 mph) to the western Viti Levu and southern islands chains. Strong wind gusts are likely to down trees and electrical poles, blocking roads and causing power outages. Rainfall is likely to exacerbate flood conditions, especially in western areas of Viti Levu. Authorities have issued a flood warning for low-lying areas of the region, including in Nadi, as several rivers have surpassed flood alert levels. Flash flooding may also occur in Vanua Levu, Taveuni, and other islands. Flight disruptions are likely, including Nadi International (NAN) and Nausori International (SUV) April 10. Authorities have closed schools in the country through at least April 10, and the facilities are serving as shelters for those impacted by the storm. Officials have encouraged residents in flood-prone areas to move to the facilities. 

Wind gusts are likely to be less intense in Tonga, as Keni is forecast to pass well west of the country; however, strong gusts remain possible, and damage to power infrastructure and transport disruptions cannot be ruled out. Heavy rainfall is likely for western islands in the country. Flash flooding may occur April 11, especially on Tongatapu Island. While flight disruptions appear unlikely at Fua'amotu International Airport (TBU), some flight delays may occur, especially if Keni tracks further east than forecast. 


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