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Life-threatening Tropical Cyclone Winston barrels toward Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Winston continues to barrel toward Fiji with catastrophic force.

Winston is on a collision course with Fiji and is now the equivalent of a dangerous Category 5 hurricane in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic basins or a super typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean.

There is a major danger to lives and property in the direct path of Winston.

Winston is expected to continue to the west through the weekend which will take the center of the storm across Fiji.

The most severe and life-threatening impacts will be Saturday afternoon into early Sunday, local time. Major wind damage, flooding, mudslides and coastal inundation are expected to occur during this time.

As Winston tracks westward, it will impact the southern coast of the Taveuni Island around midday Saturday with sustained winds over 241 km/h (150 mph) and gusts up to 322 km/h (200 mph) which will lead to severe wind damage and extensive coastal inundation. There will be torrential flooding as well.

Saturday afternoon, Winston will batter the southern coast of Vanua Levu with severe winds, torrential flooding, and extensive coastal inundation. The town of Savusavu and especially the village of Namalata will be severely impacted by Winston.

From Saturday evening into Saturday night the cyclone will pass close to the northern coast of Viti Levu. Gusts over 241 km/h (150 mph) and sustained winds over 160 km/h (100 mph) can be expected even though the storm will start to slowly weaken. Extensive wind damage and torrential flooding will impact the north coast and the threat for severe storm surge will increase Saturday night as soon as Winston passes by to the north and northwest and winds shift into the north.

Sustained winds of 170 km/h (106 mph) have already been reported on Vanua Mbalavu island from the passage of Winston early Saturday morning local time.

On Sunday, Winston will be just west of the main island of Fiji, before making a southward turn early next week. Once Winston makes a southward turn, weakening is expected.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologists Bob Smerbeck and Kristina Pydynowski along with staff writer Kevin Byrne contributed content to this article.