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Tropical Cyclone Evan
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Tropical Cyclone Evan

December 20, 2012
Tropical Cyclone Evan battered Fiji with intense winds in mid-December 2012, leaving a trail of destruction as it whipped the islands with Category 4 force winds. The storm made landfall on Fiji’s main island of Vitu Levu about 18:00 UTC on December 17, and passed offshore the next day, having weakened slightly and carrying Category 3 strength winds. The storm is expected to continue to weaken before heading to New Zealand in the next 48 hours.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) passed over the region on December 14 at 2205 UTC and captured this true-color image of Evan as it crawled through the Samoan Islands with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains. Earlier that same day, at 1500 UTC, Cyclone Evan had maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (185 km/h), with cyclone-force winds extending 40 mi (64.8 km) out from the center, and tropical storm force winds extending to 120.8 mi (194.5 km). At that time the storm was centered about 155 miles (250 km) northwest of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Three days later, the storm had strengthened as it crossed the Fijian Islands. As Evan’s high winds and heavy storm surge struck the islands, trees were torn down, rivers became swollen, power lines were toppled and homes were destroyed. About 8,500 locals sheltered from the storm in evacuation centers, while thousands of international tourists made their way to Viti Levu’s resorts. Despite widespread damage, initial assessments suggest that no lives have been lost.

According to Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog, a database maintained by NOAA’s Coastal Service Center showed that Evan is the strongest tropical cyclone on record to affect Fiji’s main island since the first recordings in 1941.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC