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Tropical Cyclone Winston Slams Into Fiji, Smashes Records

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The strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere slammed into the island nation of Fiji late Saturday, with reports of one fatality and widespread power outages and damage from the storm.

With top winds of 184 miles-per-hour (MPH) just before landfall early Saturday morning U.S. time, Winston moved into the northeast corner of Viti Levu, Fiji’s most populated and largest island. Although missing the more heavily populated southern portion of Viti Levu, at least one fatality was reported, according to the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation. Schools are closed on the island for at least a week and most locations were without power or water, as of late Saturday U.S. time.

According to tropical researcher Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University, Winston is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, with maximum sustained winds of 160 knots, or 184 MPH.

Winston had already begun a weakening process as of late Saturday U.S. time, and the storm is expected to rapidly weaken as it slowly moves west in mostly open ocean waters. The storm could impact Fiji again late next week but with significantly lighter winds, with flooding the primary concern with a possible second landfall.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi – Photo: NASA

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