I understand I barely talk about southern hemisphere tropical cyclones but this past weekend Winston deserves more attention than what has been put out by westpacwx.
The storm has broken all sorts of records including the strongest ever southern hemisphere cyclone and the strongest storm to ever make landfall on the island of Fiji. Landfalling storms on the island overall are rather rare and the only ones in the past have come on shore as a Cat 1, never a Cat 5 with winds gusting up to 325kph.
Smaller towns along the north coast of the island have been completely devastated according to local reports. Many of these small towns have homes with weak structures and are also in low lying areas making them more prone for damage.
— Jacquee Speight (@JacqueeSpeight) February 21, 2016
The death toll continues to climb today as more information is gathered today and likely for weeks to come. A state of emergency has been issued for the island nation for up to 30 days. All schools have been closed and all flights in and out of Fiji have been cancelled. The main priority now is getting supplies and relief in to help those impacted.
The forecast is not all that great over the coming days as well, we still have more thunderstorms expected over Fiji as rain bands wrap around the slow moving Cyclone Winston to the west.
The forecast at first glance looks grim for Vanuatu but most numerical guidance along with the official agencies expect a hard turn south over the next 24hrs taking the storm away from the island nation.
Eventually it still could have a impact on the North Island of New Zealand as a extra-tropical cyclone by the end of the week. There is no threat to Australia.