Tropical cyclone Winston meandered around the south pacific for a couple of weeks before striking Fiji as a category 5 system–meaning sustained winds in excess of 137 knots (157mph). The eye moved along the north coast of Viti Levu and wiped out villages in Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, and many of the smaller islands. Winston is being noted as the 2nd most powerful cyclone ever to make landfall, with winds in excess of 200 knots.
Video from NOAA showing cyclone passing through Fiji:
News is slowly getting out describing the severe damage all over Fiji. Many houses were leveled, lots of trees fallen, and flooding has washed out roads. Power has still not been restored for many people. Loss of life (21 as of this writing) was minimized by plenty of warning and a good system of emergency shelters on the islands.
Aid is slowly reaching Fiji, but getting it to the people in need will be a big challenge. Me and 3 crew members from Seattle will be flying to Fiji in 5 weeks and will be bringing as much as possible to help out those in need. Two helicopters are being supplied by the Australian government to help distribute food and supplies to different locations.
The eye passed within 25 miles of Vuda Point marina, where Apropos has been for the past 5 months in a ‘cyclone pit’. We were told by marina staff that only 2 boats that were on jack stands toppled over, and all the boats in pits are ok and just shifted by a few degrees. So structurally Apropos is fine but I’m still waiting to hear about any damage from flying debris. I think I’ll buy a new wind anemometer just in case!