Publication Date February 29, 2016

Winston's damage highest in South Pacific history

Figure 1. VIIRS infrared image of Tropical Cyclone Winston at 0057 UTC February 20, 2016. At the time, Winston was the strongest storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, with sustained winds of 185 mph. Koro Island is in the eye. Image: NOAA/NESDIS.

While many cyclones in the South Pacific have caused severe devastation, the roughly half-billion-dollar cost of Winston appears to be a record-setter for this region. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed by Winston, with northern and western regions of Fiji receiving catastrophic damage. The government of Fiji estimated on Thursday that the cost of the disaster would be at least $468 million, making it the costliest tropical cyclone in South Pacific history.