NEWS

TC Ula Expected To Weaken

Weather Situation – Over the past 24 hours there has been some changes to the evolving weather pattern around the region, which in turn will have significant impacts in the
02 Jan 2016 09:47
TC Ula Expected To Weaken
SODELPA president Ro Filipe Tuisawa and SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu.
Weather Situation – Over the past 24 hours there has been some changes to the evolving weather pattern around the region, which in turn will have significant impacts in the expected weather over coming days.
Firstly, there has been a slight weakening of the high pressure system to the southeast of Fiji and east of NZ which has allowed both TD07F and TC Ula to move more southward than first expected. TD07F is now well south of Viti Levu and west of Kadavu where it is currently slow moving once more. Although the circulation of the depression remains significant, pushing fresh to strong and gusty southwest to northwest winds over Fiji this morning, almost all of the cloud associated with this system has dissipated now.
Hence the heavy rain has cleared for the time being from most parts of Fiji with just occasional passing showers left in the gusty westerly wind flow. Special Weather Bulletins with Heavy Rain Warnings and Flood Warnings are current, and you can access the latest Special Weather Bulletinhere.

Secondly, TC Ula intensified further becoming a severe tropical cyclone late yesterday and overnight as the cyclone took a brief southward diversion from the forecast track yesterday morning, but has now resumed is predicted west-southwest path towards the eastern islands of Fiji.

Forecast models indicate TC Ula will continue to move west-southwest towards Fiji today and tonight however the likely zone where TC Ula will start to impact Fiji is going to be a little south of earlier predictions yesterday. The latest forecast from midnight does indicate that the centre of TC Ula will move over southern Lau close to or just south of Fulaga and Ogea islands and north of Ono i Lau early tomorrow morning bringing strengthening southeast to southerly winds shifting southwesterly as winds strengthen to damaging gale force across southern Lau tomorrow morning.

Cloud will increase across the eastern and central division tonight and tomorrow with showers tending to rain and becoming heavy at times over Lau, Lomaiviti, Kadavu and southeast Viti Levu. The north and the west of Fiji including Vanua Levu, the Yasawas and Mamanucas and western Viti Levu, locations usually worst affected by approaching tropical cyclones, will in fact experience less wind and rain than the south and east of the country as TC Ula approaches, however some showers and fresh gusty winds will extend to the west and the north also.

Forecasts continuing to indicate that TC Ula will very likely slow down or become near stationary for a day or two as it reaches waters south of Kadavu tomorrow night. As a result, there remains some concern with the longer term impacts of this system if it slows down and heavy rain continues for several days.

As we have already seen in recent years, prolonged rain from a slow moving tropical cyclone can be especially devastating. The forecasts do continue to indicate that TC Ula will weaken to a Category 2 system later as it moves over the southeastern corner of Fiji, and it will become slow moving with the centre predicted to remain over waters south of Kadavu from tomorrow night through to around Wednesday next week.

It is possible that the centre of the cyclone may move northward just a little on Tuesday, back towards Fiji. If this occurs then winds will strengthen a little as will the rain, however it should be stressed that any northward movement is very unlikely to last long and will not bring the centre directly over the more populated parts of Fiji around Viti Levu. That said, the primary risk associated with this cyclone will be the rain, and winds will only be damaging about the remote southeast islands of Lau.

 

While longer term impacts remain a little unclear, we can say with some confidence that near term TC Ula will move over the southeast of Fiji as a strong category 2 or weak category 3 cyclone tonight or early tomorrow morning, and the eastern division will experience initial impacts.

 

For Fiji – Continuing mostly cloudy and windy today with occasional passing showers, more frequent about the south and the west while TC07F still dominates for a few more hours today. Fresh to strong southwest to northwest winds over Fiji shifting south to southeasterly tonight over the Lau group and becoming damaging gale force with gusts to 85kmph tonight and tomorrow morning as TC Ula moves over the southeast.

 

Outlook for the next three days – Tomorrow we can expect rain and strengthening south to southeast winds as TC Ula moves over the eastern division and into the central division south of Suva closer to Kadavu. Damaging gale force winds are forecast to commence over the central and southern Lau islands in the early hours oftomorrow morning and then spread into the central Division Sunday morning. Rain will become very heavy for prolonged periods tomorrow.

 

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