The most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere has made landfall on Fiji. Tropical Cyclone Winston has been forming since February 7th, and earlier today, it hit Fiji with the intensity of a Category 5 hurricane.
The storm slammed into the Fiji’s northern island of Viti Levu, home to a majority of the country’s population, earlier today, blowing away homes and flooding the island. The eye of the storm has since passed over the island, but storm warnings remain in effect for the island. The storm brought winds of an estimated 140 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 200 mph.
Winston began to form in early February, initially designated as Tropical Disturbance 09F. It was designated a Tropical Cyclone on February 10th, and continued to intensify. The storm passed over the tropical nation of Tonga earlier this week while it was a category 2 storm, only to turn and pass over the islands once again as a category 4 storm.
The storm made landfall over Fiji earlier today, prompting a state of emergency, and a nation-wide curfew. Communications with several islands has since been lost, and there have been numerous reports of damage. At least one person is confirmed dead at this point.
Image credits: AP Images, (Top), U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (Middle)