Tropical Cyclone Oma strengthened to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon over the Coral Sea north of New Caledonia on Friday. At 1:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Oma was located at latitude 15.4°S and longitude 164.2°E which put it about 300 miles (485 km) north of New Caledonia. Oma was moving toward the west-southwest at 4 m.p.h. (6 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 969 mb.
The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Oma continued to become better organized on Friday. A ring of thunderstorms wrapped around much of the center of circulation and there were indications on satellite images that an eye could be forming. The strongest thunderstorms were the northwestern part of the ring. The ring was thinner east of the center and there were several breaks in that portion of the ring. Storms near the center were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from core of the tropical cyclone. Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the center of circulation. The bands were stronger north and west of the center and the stronger winds were occurring in that part of Tropical Cyclone Oma.
Tropical Cyclone Oma will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next day or two. Oma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C. It will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear. Tropical Cyclone Oma is likely to strengthen more and there is a chance that it could intensify into the equivalent of a major hurricane.
Tropical Cyclone Oma will move slowly around the western end of a strengthening subtropical ridge. The ridge will steer Oma slowly toward the southwest during the next 24 hours. Tropical Cyclone Oma will move toward the southwest more rapidly in a day or so when the subtropical ridge is stronger. On its anticipated track the core of Tropical Cyclone Oma could pass near the northernmost islands of New Caledonia in 24 to 36 hours.