More rain than usual and warmer temperatures ahead: Fiji Met

Above-average rainfall and above-average temperatures – both atmospheric and sea-level surface -, as well as instances of coral bleaching and most likely, more tuna than usual, are to be expected over the next six months in Fiji waters, the local weather office says.

Fiji Meteorological Director Misaele Funaki said weather events and the consequential impacts stem from the La Nina phenomenon declared for the Pacific region, effects of which will be felt this month through April 2021 at the latest.

We should expect more rain and warmer than usual temperatures from October through April 2021 at the latest, Fiji Met Climatologist Terry Atalifo told local stakeholder representatives comprising government officials, Fiji Navy, conservation NGOs, USP and FNU, in the corridors of the Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum that finishes today at SPC in Nabua. 

“October to December 2020 and January to March 2021 period, above average is likely for across the country, while normal to below normal rainfall is likely for Rotuma,” Atalifo said.

“During the La-Nina phenomenon, Fiji experiences above-average rainfall, normal tropical cyclone activities during the TC season and warm conditions.”

Periods of heavy rain will lead to flash flooding, particularly in low lying areas, and cause landslides as well.

Sea surface temperatures in Fiji waters will also be warmer than usual. Increase in sea surface temperatures means instances of coral bleaching occurring but does not translate to coral mortality, Bipend Prasad who is a senior climatologist at the Fiji Weather Office says.

“For the next four to eight weeks there is no coral bleaching alert for most Fiji waters except for waters close to Rotuma, but the outlook for the 12 weeks, it indicates a coral bleaching (level 1 alert) for most of the Fiji waters.”

Increased temperatures as well, mean movement of tuna stocks will be displaced and not follow its usual route.

“It is expected to be displaced further to the West and South of its normal position and to some extent closer to the Fiji Group,” Prasad said.

The last La-Nina event recorded in the region occured in September 2017 through November 2017 as well as February to April 2018 during which six tropical cyclones were reported. Of these, three were classified as severe cyclones or in the range of category three and higher.

Meanwhile, in his presentation as well, Atalifo restated Fiji’s 2020/2021 tropical cyclone outlook.

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