Cyclone Winston strikes Fiji's main island

Cyclone Winston has struck Fiji's main island of Viti levu tonight with hurricane force winds.

The weather office told the Fiji Times the eye of the cyclone was on land with winds of 220 km/h at the centre.

It's predicted to be the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Fiji in recorded history.

The Category 5 cyclone is bringing winds of more than 300km/h after battering Fiji's outer islands. Source: 1 NEWS

It made landfall towards the north-eastern coast of Viti Levu and would be closer to the island's centre by morning.

Raging winds have started to batter the capital, Suva, damaging some makeshift houses and sending loose pieces of roofing iron flying, The Fiji Times Online reported.

The city is without electricity with reports of broken power lines, all businesses have also closed down and police are enforcing a 6pm curfew, it said.

Nadi is expected to be among the worst hit areas of the country after Winston changed direction today, having battered Fiji's outer islands early this morning, lashing the island Taveuni.

The cyclone's 220 kilometre-an-hour hurricane force winds and heavy rain are a disastrous combination for the country's low lying regions prone to sea surges and flash flooding.

"The advice to the people is please be prepared at all times  and be prepared to embrace these destructive storm force to hurricane force winds as the cyclone draws closer," said Ravin Jumar, Fiji's director of meteorology earlier in the day.

The Government activated 700 evacuation centres and urged locals to prepare for a "disastrous storm". 

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told Fijians they needed to prepare to survive.

"They're expecting really high winds here over the next 12 hours," says ONE News reporter Jessica Mutch in Nadi. Source: 1 NEWS

That's exactly what they were doing when a ONE News crew arrived in Nadi this afternoon to find Fiji's third largest city going into lockdown.

"People are saying mainly to stock up on your water because most of the shops are closed and there's big queues on the ATMs because locals are getting all the cash they can from the banks," one local man said. 

A woman said: "Were scared." 

The island of Vanua Levu is also expected to take a direct hit after high winds and heavy rain already.

ONE News has been told entire towns are empty, and like much of Fiji, are bracing for a long night.

Meanwhile, the Government has declared a State of Natural Disaster for Fiji for the next 30 days.