Tropical Cyclone Martin

4 Gardiner St.
Suva, Fiji
11th April 1986: 4.30pm

A hurricane warning is in force for the Fiji Islands. Gusts expected up to 100 knots (115.2 mph/185.5kph). It is an event I anticipate with juvenile excitement. Never yet have I experienced such weather. I know it’s potentially very destructive and, for some, fatal. Yet it’s something I want to live through.


12th April: 1pm
So far, so good. The Fiji Times headlines MARTIN HEADS NORTH. In fact the bearing is east south-east, centering a little to the north of Labasa: PRAY FOR VANUA LEVU says the Fiji Sun. Here on the island of Viti Levu meetings and matches are cancelled. The biggest factor, though, is not the pending winds but the rains brought by the preceding depression. Floods to the west have cut off Nadi, Lautoka and Ba. Bridges and takings at the duty-free shops are down.

An 11 year old boy is drowned in a swollen river, the first reported victim of Cyclone Martin. The report heightens the drama, although the cyclone has yet to land. If it were the cause of most of today’s deaths, then heart attacks could also be attributed to it. Berserk man cuts 3 dead was a headline last week. Was he too suffering from the weather condition?

Nervous anticipation therefore continues. So far today has remained calm and rainless in Suva., the best weather we have experienced for a week. No sun though – so much for paradise.

FM96 reports: “Winds are wooshing the the wooves of Lambasa.”
Empty 40 gallon oil drums “from the supermarket next door” are rolling down the street. The Emergency Ctte. are worried about sightseers endangering their lives.
Whose? The committee’s?

Here, all is quiet, the shutters remain open with the candles still in the cupboard.

Sunday 13.4.86. 12 noon
In the event, Hurricane Martin veered slightly to the east and its epicentre crossed the eastern tip of Vanua Levu. Roofs were blown off and patients at the Lambasa Hospital were moved to the ground floor. Many rural villages were evacuated to emergency centres, but no casualties were reported.

Here, the weather has been showing a definite improvement. I’ve finally managed to get my washing out to dry in the intermittent sunshine and slight breeze.

My washing is having a belated rinse in rain-soft water.

And so it goes.

Footnote 14.4.86
fr. the Fiji Times.
Cyclone Martin moved out of the Fiji group yesterday after claiming 5 lives and leaving a swathe of destruction in northern Vanua Levu. and nearby islands.
—-Scores of buildings have been flattened or damaged and hundreds of people were made homeless.
—-Two people died in Vanua Levu at the peak of the cyclone on Saturday night bringing the national death total to five. Three children drowned between Friday and Sunday.

Footnote 20.3.15
Fiji/Tonga – cyclone Martin Apr 1986 UNDRO information reports 1 – 2


About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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