Tropical Cyclone Belna strengthened to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon north of Madagascar on Friday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Belna was located at latitude 9.4°N and longitude 48.2°E which put it about 440 miles (710 km) north-northeast of Mahajanga, Madagascar. Belna was moving toward the south-southwest at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 979 mb.
Tropical Cyclone Belna continued to strengthen on Friday. Microwave satellite images continued to indicate that an eye was in the process of forming. The ring of thunderstorms around the developing eye got stronger and the strongest winds were found in that ring of storms. More thunderstorms developed in the bands revolving around the core of Belna. Storms near the core generated upper level divergence which pumped mass away from the tropical cyclone.
The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Belna was relatively small. Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 85 miles (135 km) from the center.
Tropical Cyclone Belna will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 to 48 hours. Belna will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28.5°C. It will move through a region where the upper level winds will be weak and there will be little vertical wind shear. Tropical Cyclone Belna will continue to intensify during the weekend and it could strengthen into the equivalent of a major hurricane.
Tropical Cyclone Belna will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the South Indian Ocean. The high will steer Belna toward the south-southwest during the next several days. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Belna could approach the coast of Madagascar near Mahajanga in about three days. Belna could be the equivalent of a major hurricane when it approaches the coast.
Elsewhere over the Southwest Pacific Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Ambali weakened almost as fast as it intensified on Thursday. At 10:00 a.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Ambali was located at latitude 11.7°S and longitude 62.1°E which put it about 670 miles (1080 km) north-northeast of Port Louis, Mauritius. Ambali was moving toward the south at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 125 m.p.h. (200 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 965 mb.