Cyclone Zena passes through Fiji
Fears allayed as Fiji escapes from Cyclone Zena's path relatively unscathed.
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Tropical Cyclone Zena was downgraded to a Category 2 cyclone as it passed through the southern part of Fiji overnight.
Aid agencies were concerned about how Zena would impact the country as it was already dealing with the fallout from other natural disasters. Heavy rains had caused widespread flooding earlier in the week. Fiji is still recovering after being ravaged by Cyclone Winston in late February.
While Zena was only a Category 2 cyclone – by contrast Winston was a Category 5 – it still posed a significant threat to those living in Fiji.
Flood alerts and strong wind warnings were in force, which disrupted both international and domestic flights.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) defines a Category 2 cyclone as causing:
- Heavy damage to crops
- Minor house damage
- Risk of power outages
- Significant damage to caravans, signs and trees
- Small watercraft may break moorings
Category 2 cyclones are capable of creating destructive winds, with gusts of between 125 and 164 km/h. Such winds correspond to Beaufort 10 and 11 (Storm and violent storm).
From 6pm Wednesday 6 April 2016, Fiji enacted a countrywide "Restriction of Movement Order", which means that people are to secure their properties and remain indoors until further notice.
The warning caused widespread consternation and confusion, forcing Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, to clarify just what the Restriction of Movement Order meant. "There is no need to pick up passes or anything like that," he said. If you need to get to and from work that is fine. However, if people are caught loitering around townships or swimming in the ocean, they will be fined and taken into police custody.
The DFAT advisory Smartraveller issued an advisory for Australians travelling to Fiji. While it didn't raise the warning level from exercise normal safety precautions, it did advise that "Australians planning to visit Fiji should check with their travel providers for the latest advice regarding any impact on their travel arrangements."
Looking at short term departure data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), April is not a peak period for Australians heading to Fiji, with historical departures generally at or below monthly averages.