Tropical Cyclone Winston: Fiji has been hit by the 'strongest ever' cyclone in the southern hemisphere

Fiji has been hit by the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

Tropical Cyclone Winston was the first category five tropical cyclone to cross the South Pacific nation, and there are reports that at least one person has already died in the widespread destruction.

The cyclone struck the main island — Viti Levu — of Fiji overnight. It’s feared the cyclone has wiped out villages and destroyed homes with winds of 230km/h and gusts reaching 325km/h.

As of 6am AEDT this morning, Cyclone Winston was 200km west of Nadi, a city on Fiji’s main island, with winds at 205km/h, according to MetService.

On Saturday, authorities issued a total public curfew for the entire country at 6pm local time restricting travel and movement of Fijians.

The Fijian government has since declared a state of national disaster for Fiji which would be effective for 30 days from February 20. Here was the announcement by Fiji’s natural disaster secretary Meleti Bainimarama:

The government has set up 758 evacuation centres across the country which has a population of 900,000 people.

Radio Fiji One on AM frequency is now the only station which still has national coverage with radio reports being delivered every hour.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has also directed all schools in the country to close for one week to allow for cleanup and rehabilitation work.

“The destructive portion of the winds has now cleared Fiji’s main island and the worst of the rain has too, although wet and windy conditions do remain for many,” WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan told the NZ Herald.

According to, “the destructive area of winds around the eye stretches 500kms across and is about as large as Fiji’s two main islands combined”.

Here is footage captured at the scene of the cyclone:

All flights were cancelled at Nadi International Airport yesterday. Fiji Airways has cancelled flights for Sunday and Monday while Virgin Australia and Jetstar have cancelled all flights in and out of Nadi today with flights on Monday still under review.

Virgin Australia services cancelled today, Sunday 21 February:

  • VA181 SYD-NAN STD 0830L
  • VA180 NAN-SYD STD 1435L
  • VA185 MEL-NAN STD 0945L
  • VA184 NAN-MEL STD 1635L
  • VA175 BNE-NAN STD 0900L
  • VA176 NAN-BNE STD 1530L

Virgin Australia services on Monday 22 February that are under review:

  • VA181 SYD-NAN STD 0830L
  • VA180 NAN-SYD STD 1435L
  • VA185 MEL-NAN STD 0945
  • VA184 NAN-MEL STD 1635
  • VA175 BNE-NAN STD 0930
  • VA176 NAN-BNE STD 1600

Jetstar services cancelled today, Sunday 21 February:

  • JQ 119: Sydney – Nadi, Fiji
  • JQ 120: Nadi, Fiji – Sydney

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