Tropical Cyclone Hola brought strong winds and heavy rain to Vanuatu on Wednesday. At 10:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola was located at latitude 17.4°S and longitude 165.5°E which put it about 180 miles (290 km) west of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Hola was moving toward the west-southwest at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 105 m.p.h. (170 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 959 mb.
Tropical Cyclone Hola intensified rapidly into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon on Wednesday. A very small circular eye developed at the center of circulation. A ring of strong thunderstorms formed around the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms. Rainbands were revolving around the core of the Tropical Cyclone Hola. The strongest rainbands were occurring in the eastern side of the circulation. The rainbands were weaker in the western half of Hola. Storms around the core of the circulation were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the east of the tropical cyclone. The circulation of Tropical Cyclone Hola was fairly small. Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 30 miles (50 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 120 miles (195 km) from the center.
Tropical Cyclone Hola will move through an environment favorable for intensification for another 24 to 36 hours. Hola will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C. It is moving under a region where the upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear. Tropical Cyclone Hola is likely to intensify during the next 24 hours and it could become the equivalent of a major hurricane.
Tropical Cyclone Hola was moving around the northwestern end of a subtropical ridge which was steering the tropical cyclone toward the west-northwest. Hola is forecast to turn more toward the south when it rounds the end of the ridge on Thursday. It could move toward the southeast when it moves farther south. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Hola could approach New Caledonia and the Iles Loyaute in a little over 24 hours.
Rainbands in the eastern half of Tropical Cyclone Hola brought gusty winds and locally heavy rain to parts of Vanuatu on Wednesday. Wind and rain could increase over New Caledonia and the Iles Loyaute by Friday.