Category 5 Cyclone Yasa made landfall in Fiji on 17 December 2020, slamming into the island of Vanua Levu.

The devastating cyclone has brought winds of up to 250 km/h, equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane wind scale.

A nationwide curfew was imposed ahead of the cyclone making landfall, which included a ban on all public transport.

Thousands of people were forced to evacuate to schools that have been turned into evacuation centres.

This was the second time in 2020 that the Fiji archipelago was hit by a major tropical cyclone. With Christmas just days away, the disaster has put thousands of people to the test.

Fiji cyclone Yasa: quick facts

When did Cyclone Yasa Make Landfall?

Cyclone Yasa made landfall on Venu Levu Island on 17 December 2020 at around 8 pm Fiji time.

How powerful was Cyclone Yasa?

Category 5 Cyclone Yasa made landfall in Fiji on 17 December 2020 in Bua province on the Northern island of Vanua Levu with winds of up to 250 km/h.

Soon after hitting land, it weakened to a Category 1 and moved away from the Fijian Island group.

How many people were affected?

It was initially estimated that the entirety of the Fijian population would be affected by Cyclone Yasa.

Some parts of Fiji, such as the northern island Vanua Levu, were severely affected, however, other areas were almost untouched.

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Damage from a cyclone in Vanatau in 2020

What was the effect of cyclone Yasa?

The devastating cyclone unleashed powerful winds, torrential rain and flooding.

Power cuts were reported in the capital, Suva, and some areas were cut off by floodwaters.

In Fiji, many homes are made from wood or corrugated iron. These materials make them extremely vulnerable during storms like Yasa. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that even well-built houses could face severe damage.

The country was braced for severe disruption and widespread damage.

Earlier in 2020, ShelterBox responded to Cyclone Harold that hit the neighbouring Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. Harold was the strongest cyclone to hit the islands since Cyclone Pam in 2015.

destroyed homes in India after Cyclone Amphan
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A damaged home following the devastating Cyclone Amphan that struck India in May 2020. We have responded, providing shelter kits, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and hygiene kits with soap, buckets and face masks.

What is a cyclone?

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

The South Pacific cyclone season usually starts in November and ends in April.

Globally, climate change is expected to make storms more intense and unpredictable.

They could also be more damaging, moving at a slower pace, packing heavier rains, and intensifying rapidly – as has been the case during 2020’s record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. (source: The New Humanitarian)

Hurricanes and Cyclones Explained

How did ShelterBox help?

In 2020, we were responding to disasters in multiple different countries.

We worked with our global partners to support families affected by hurricanes, flooding, conflict and more. ShelterBox did not respond in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasa.

Cyclone Yasa came at the end of a challenging year of extreme weather events, including a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.

Find out more about the criteria we use to make our response decisions here.

A man in Vanuatu standing around temporary shelters

Disasters don’t stop

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