Severe Tropical Cyclone Keni (19P)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Keni (19P), the eighth named storm of the 2017-18 South Pacific cyclone season, formed on April 8 over open water in the South Pacific. Keni rapidly intensified and bypassed to the southwest of Fiji’s largest island of Viti Levu on April 10 as a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone on the Fiji Meteorological Service tropical cyclone intensity scale, equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS). The system continued to intensify and tracked over Fiji’s Kadavu Island, an island located 70 km (45 mi) south of Viti Levu, as a Category 2 equivalent hurricane on SSHWS. Gusts of up to 195km/hr (121 mph) were observed on Kadavu Island. Keni has caused significant wind damage on Kadavu Island, where media reports suggest some villages have been destroyed. Hundreds of trees have been uprooted and powerlines and communications lines downed. The city of Nadi (pop. ~50,000) and the south-west of Viti Levu escaped the worst of the impacts, though some minor wind damage is reported. The system has caused flash flooding in the western division of Viti Levu, though there are currently no reports of flooding impacting properties in Nadi. The Fijian National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is expected to deploy aircraft reconnaissance missions in the coming days to assess the extent of the damage in Kadavu and flooding in Viti Levu . More than 6,000 people are currently residing in 115 emergency shelters . Keni is the second tropical cyclone to impact Fiji in just over a week after Tropical Cyclone Josie caused severe wind damage and produced severe flash flooding across Viti Levu. After impacting Fiji, Keni continued to track south-southeast and bypassed Tonga around 250 km (150 mi) offshore, though some minor damage has been reported. Keni is currently located over open water in the South Pacific around 800 km (500 mi) south of Tonga. The system is forecast to gradually weaken in the coming 24-48 hours to below tropical storm strength and is not expected to impact land.

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