Thursday, December 17, 2020

Fierce Cyclone Yasa strikes Fiji as one of the country’s most powerful storms

Global warming is leading to more large hurricanes/cyclones.

By Andrew Freedman
Dec. 17, 2020 at 11:34 a.m. EST

Tropical Cyclone Yasa struck the low-lying Pacific island nation of Fiji on Thursday evening local time, as one of the strongest storms to hit there. With maximum sustained winds of between 150 and 160 mph, the storm made landfall on Vanua Levu, home to about 140,000, bringing potentially devastating winds, flooding rains and storm surge flooding.


The storm reached Category 5 intensity Wednesday, Eastern time, with sustained winds of 160 mph along with higher gusts. The nation of nearly 900,000 is a small target in a large ocean, and has seen just one landfall of a Category 3 storm or stronger, which was Category 5 Cyclone Winston in 2016. That storm, which was even stronger than Yasa at landfall, killed at least 40 and left thousands homeless, shredding trees with its powerful wind gusts.

More recently, Cyclone Harold affected Fiji earlier in the year, after hammering the small island nation of Vanuatu. Only three storms of Category 3 intensity or greater have passed near Fiji.


Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach said Cyclone Yasa is the most powerful storm to form in the 2020-2021 tropical season so far.

Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, has been a forceful advocate for taking action to reduce the severity of climate change, given his country’s vulnerability to sea-level rise and extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones. “On this same day in 2012, Fiji was enduring Cyclone Evan,” Bainimarama said on his Facebook page.

“Since then, we’ve been battered by 12 more cyclones — two of which (Winston and Yasa) are now jockeying for our hemisphere’s strongest-ever storm in history,” he said.

“This is not normal,” he stated. “This is a climate emergency.”

Fiji was the first country in the world to ratify the Paris climate accord, which calls upon countries to make emissions cuts consistent with limiting global warming to well below 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels, with a more ambitious target of 2.7 degrees (1.5 Celsius) as an aspirational goal.

tags: extreme weather, severe weather,

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