Tropical Cyclone Niran Rapidly Intensifies to Equivalent of Cat. 5 Hurricane

Tropical Cyclone Niran rapidly intensified to the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale over the Coral Sea on Friday morning. At 10:00 a.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Niran was located at latitude 19.4°S and longitude 160.2°E which put it about 505 miles (815 km) west-northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia. Niran was moving toward the east-southeast at 28 m.p.h. (44 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 195 m.p.h. (315 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 922 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Niran continued to intensify rapidly over the Coral Sea on Friday morning even though it was moving quickly toward the east-southeast. A small circular eye with a diameter of 12 miles (19 km) was at the center of Niran. The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms. Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Niran. Storms near the core generated upper level divergence that pumped mass away from the tropical cyclone.

There was a large area of strong winds around Tropical Cyclone Niran. Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 65 miles (105 km) from the center of Niran. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 250 miles (400 km) from the center of circulation. The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Tropical Cyclone Niran was 35.0. The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 24.3 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 59.3 Niran was capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage.

Tropical Cyclone Niran will move through an environment capable of supporting an intense tropical cyclone during the next 12 hours. Niran will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperatures will be near 29°C. It will move under the axis an upper level ridge over the Coral Sea. The winds are weak near the axis of the ridge and there will be little vertical wind shear. Tropical Cyclone Niran could maintain its intensity during the next 12 hours. Niran will begin to weaken when its circulation begins to interact with New Caledonia. An upper level trough near eastern Australia will approach Tropical Cyclone Niran in about 24 hours. The trough will produce northwesterly winds and the wind shear will begin to increase. More shear will cause Niran to start to weaken more quickly on Saturday.

Tropical Cyclone Niran will move around the southwestern part of a high pressure system over the tropical South Pacific Ocean. The high will steer Niran quickly toward the southeast during the next several days. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Niran will begin to affect New Caledonia within 12 hours. Niran will be the equivalent of a major hurricane when it reaches New Caledonia. The track of Tropical Cyclone Niran will cause it to bring very strong winds, a significant storm surge and heavy rain to all of New Caledonia. Tropical Cyclone Niran will be capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage to New Caledonia. Niran could cause a storm surge of up to 16 feet (5 meters) along portions of the coast where the wind blows water toward the shore. It will drop heavy rain and flash floods are likely to occur.