NASA sees dangerous category 4 Cyclone Evan lashing Fiji

Dec 17, 2012
NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Tropical Cyclone Evan at 0135 UTC on Dec. 16 (8:35 p.m. EST/U.S., Dec. 15) when it was over the Fiji Islands. Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Cyclone Evan is one of the strongest cyclones to affect Fiji in almost two decades, and NASA satellites are analyzing the storm and providing data on rainfall, cloud height, temperature data and more to forecasters.

According to NBC News, over 3,500 people in Fiji went to emergency shelters. Today, Dec. 17, Evan is lashing Fiji, just days after battering Samoa where it killed at least three people and left thousands homeless.

On Monday, Dec. 17 many warnings and watches were in effect. A tropical warning is in effect for Fiji. A is in effect for the Mamanuca island group, west of the line from Lautoka to Sigatoka and nearby smaller islands. A storm warning is in effect for the Yasawa group, Vatulele and the interior of Viti Levu. A gale warning is posted for the Lomaiviti group, rest of Viti Levu and nearby smaller islands, Kadavu, Beqa, and nearby smaller islands. There are also other local warnings in effect for Fiji.

The Joint (JTWC) is issuing forecasts for Evan and is using NASA and other satellite data to provide warnings and status updates on the storm. On Dec. 17 at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST), Cyclone Evan had near 115 knots (132 mph/213 kph). Evan is a Category 4 cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Cyclone Evan at 9:11 p.m. EST, Dec. 16 and the AIRS instrument captured an infrared image of the cloud tops. AIRS data showed that temperatures (purple) were as cold as -81F (-63C) over Fiji, indicating very strong thunderstorms wrapping around Evan's center. Those thunderstorms were also generating heavy rainfall. Credit: Credit: NASA JPL, ED Olsen

According to the , a Category 4 means " Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months."

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Dec. 17, Evan's center was only 15 nautical miles southwest of Nadi, Fiji, near 18.3 south latitude and 177.2 east longitude. Evan was moving to the south-southwest at 10 knots.

NASA satellite imagery has helped forecasters at JTWC that Evan is moving along the coast of Vitu Levu, Fiji. When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Cyclone Evan at 0211 UTC on Dec. 17 (9:11 p.m. EST, Dec. 16) the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument captured an infrared image of the cloud top temperatures. The colder the temperatures, the higher and stronger the thunderstorms are that make up a tropical cyclone. AIRS data showed that temperatures were as cold as -81F (-63C) over Fiji, indicating very strong thunderstorms wrapping around Evan's center. Those thunderstorms were also generating heavy rainfall. JTWC noted that in addition to the heavy rainfall, Evan is generating very high surf that could also create major flooding.

Forecasters at the JTWC also noted that in the upper levels of the atmosphere, above Evan lies a strong anti-cyclone (high pressure area) that is providing good outflow to the system being enhanced by a subtropical jet stream to the south of Cyclone Evan. That means that the vertical wind shear over Evan is low, which has allowed the storm to become so strong.

According to Weather Underground, a weather reporting station in Nadi, Fiji reported a maximum sustained wind of 69 mph (111 kph) with a gust as high as 104 mph (167.4 kph) on Dec. 17.

Evan may be the strongest storm to affect Fiji since 1993, when Cyclone Kina killed 23 and left thousands without homes.

Cyclone Evan is now moving south and will continue weakening as vertical wind shear increases and sea surface temperatures drop. As the storm weakens and becomes extra-tropical, it is expected to speed up. The JTWC expects Evan to move toward North Island, New Zealand and begin affecting the region by Dec. 21 or 22.

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA gets eyeballed from Cyclone Claudia

Dec 10, 2012

NASA's Aqua satellite got "eyeballed" from Cyclone Claudia in the Southern Indian Ocean when two instruments captured the storm's eye in infrared and visible light. Satellite data indicates that Claudia's ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...