JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - A category 5 tropical cyclone packing 180 mph winds is bearing down on Fiji, and could make landfall on a main island Friday.
Forecasters say Tropical Cyclone Winston is expected to further strengthen before the eye of the storm passes over Vanua Levu, Fiji's second-largest island.
Lt. Cmdr. Brian Howell, of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Pearl Harbor, said the storm is packing 180 mph winds, with gusts upwards of 200 mph, and shows no signs of weakening.
At about 3:30 p.m. Hawaii time, the storm was just offshore of Vanua Levu. It was expected to pass over the island about 9 p.m.
The storm has already passed over some of the South Pacific nation's smaller islands.
Forecasters say Winston would be the largest storm on record to hit Fiji's main islands.
It's tropical cyclone season in the South Pacific (the season runs from November 1 to April 30), so forecasters are warning residents to prepare for more tropical cyclone activity.