SUVA, May 11 (Xinhua) -- A tropical cyclone warning is now in force for Fiji in Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands as gale force winds are predicted to start affecting these areas from Friday.
Category two Tropical Cyclone Ella had moved further North on Thursday and is expected to affect mostly Vanua Levu, Cikobia and the neighboring islands in the Fiji Group.
This has been confirmed by Stephen Meke, the Fiji Meteorology Office senior forecaster.
Tropical Cyclone Ella was located far East-northeast of Fiji about 360 km from Cikobia with 50 knots winds close to the center and expected to gradually move westwards.
Meke said that while it remained steady and slow moving, it had continued to intensify and was also in a condition to develop further, according to reports on Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.
"Though the center will be to the north when it comes Friday, gale force winds can be expected earlier in Vanua Levu, Taveuni and smaller islands but Thursday night expects rain to be coming in with some strong gusty winds as well," Meke said.
Meke said Tropical Cyclone Ella was expected to develop into a Category 3 system.
FijiVillage news website reported that the authorities had already spoken to village headmen and advisory councillors to tell people to secure their properties.
The district officers and provincial administrators had been instructed to get the evacuation centers ready from Thursday night. People in the Northern Division should refrain from moving around.
In Lau Lameki Biau, the Vatoa Village representative said that villagers had been proactive nailing windows shut and bringing boats ashore since receiving the cyclone warning on Wednesday.
Vanuabalavu District Representative Laveti Saurara had confirmed that preparations for Cyclone Ella were complete and that they had travelled to villagers to ensure they were secured.
Heads of all schools in the Lau group, Taveuni and Udu Point have been directed to close their schools immediately as Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Ella moves towards Fiji.
The advisory has been issued by Mahendra Reddy, minister for Education.
The minister said schools in other districts will remain open until further notice.