Cyclone Evan, after devastating Samoa late last week, tore across Fiji Monday (local time) leaving behind a trail of destruction.
The South Pacific storm, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere, unleashed maximum sustained winds of up to 135 mph on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu and just offshore to the west and northwest.
Wunderground’s Jeff Masters writes Evan is the strongest cyclone to strike Fiji’s main island as far as records go back (1941).
Nadi, a tourist town along the west coast of Viti Levu, recorded a wind gust of 104 mph.
One News (out of New Zealand) reported Evan ripped off roofs, grounded ships and flooded homes. Another New Zealand press outlet (Stuff) said the country’s second largest city, Lautoka, resembled a war zone. Ahead of the storm, 3,500 people were moved to emergency structures.
Smaller islands popular with tourists offshore (Yasawa and Mamanucas, for example) experienced a direct hit with the storm’s eye moving directly overhead.
Prior to its impact in Fiji, Evan ravaged Samoa, killing four and injuring 200 according to the New Zealand Herald. NBC News said the storm destroyed thousands of homes. And 3 News (out of New Zealand) reported 4,000 people were left homeless.
The storm is currently moving towards the south-southwest, and appears to have weakened modestly. It could eventually head towards Northern New Zealand by the weekend, but will have lost considerable strength by that time.
Cyclones are fairly common in the south Pacific and are just like tropical storms and hurricanes in the northern hemisphere except they rotate clockwise rather than counterclockwise. The cyclone season spans November to April.