7 Apr 2016

Cyclone Zena downgraded, moving away from Fiji

7:59 am on 7 April 2016

Tropical cyclone Zena has weakened to a category 2 system, the Fiji Meteorological Service says.

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Photo: Fiji Metservice

Zena comes after several days of intense rain in the west of Fiji that has already left several thousand in shelters and claimed at least one life.

Yesterday, it was upgraded from a category 1 to a category 3 storm, with winds gusting up to 170km/h at its centre.

But the Fiji Meteorological Service said the system started to weaken overnight.

Thankfully the system overnight did not bring a lot more rain according to the acting director of the Met Service, Misaeli Funaki.

"Because it's a very small compact system, it didn't bring with it much rain, thankfully, but we did still experience some very good winds to exposed places."

"And we also experienced rain but not as heavy as what we have had in the past" he said.

Mr Funaki said the weather should start to improve in Fiji as Zena moves away.

Fiji, Lautoka

Sunrise in Fiji this morning as Zena moves away. Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

Tropical cyclone Zena was moving east-southeast at about 45 km/ h towards the southern Lau group of Ono-i-Lau, and should be enter Tonga waters after midday today.

Close to its centre, the cyclone is estimated to have average winds of 110 km/ h and momentary gusts to 155 km/h.

A strong wind warning remains in force for the rest of the Fiji group and a hurricane warning is in force for Vatulele, Beqa, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands.

It is just six weeks since Cyclone Winston claimed 44 lives, left tens of thousands homeless and caused widespread destruction.

Airports reopen

The Nadi International Airport, Nausori and other 13 outer islands airports that were shut in preparation for the storm are re-opening.

Airports Fiji Ltd has advised its international and domestic passengers that airlines have rescheduled their departures and arrival times for flights today out of Nadi International Airport.

Fiji Times online reports passengers have to consult their respective airlines for the rescheduled flight times before making their way to the airport.

Curfew now lifted.

Many people had headed to evacuation centres overnight, amid fears Cyclone Zena could bring similar destruction to that caused by Cyclone Winston just six weeks ago.