Late yesterday Fiji was expected to cop the full fury of the cyclone as it continued to barrel toward Fiji with catastrophic force.
Winston was on a collision course with Fiji and had reached Category 5. The devastating tropical cyclone was expected to continue to the west through the weekend, taking the centre of the storm across Fiji.
The most severe and life-threatening impacts would be into early Sunday, local time, the report said. Major wind damage, flooding, mudslides and coastal inundation are expected to occur during this time.
Winston was a major danger to lives and property directly in its path and a countrywide curfew had gone into effect at 6 p.m. local time Saturday, the Fijian government said.
Met Service director Arona Ngari said the strong winds hitting Rarotonga were expected to ease over the weekend and would be replaced by squalls.
The Met Service would closely monitor events and inform the public of any changes, he said.
A weather forecast issued at 2pm yesterday said a strong wind warning previously in force for Mauke, Rarotonga and Mangaia land areas had been cancelled. However, a strong wind warning remained in force for southern Cook Islands waters.
A trough with associated cloud and rain remained slow moving over the northern parts of Southern Cooks, while a trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain affected the Northern Cooks.
The longer term weather outlook for Rarotonga included rain and thunderstorms.