Tropical Cyclone Habana Rapidly Intensifies to Equivalent of Cat. 4 Hurricane

Tropical Cyclone Habana rapidly intensified to the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale over the South Indian Ocean on Friday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Habana was located at latitude 16.1°S and longitude 77.4°E which put it about 695 miles (1120 km) south-southeast of Diego Garcia. Habana was moving toward the east at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 140 m.p.h. (225 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 945 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Habana rapidly intensified from the equivalent of a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane during the past 24 hours over the South Indian Ocean south of Diego Garcia. A small circular eye with a diameter of 13 miles (20 km) developed at the center of Habana. 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 Habana. Storms near the core generated strong upper level divergence that pumped mass away from the tropical cyclone.

The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Habana was relatively small. Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 25 miles (40 km) from the center of Habana. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation. The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Tropical Cyclone Habana was 28.3. The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 9.4 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 37.7.

Tropical Cyclone Habana will move through an environment capable of supporting a strong tropical cyclone during the next 36 hours. Habana will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperatures will be near 28°C. It will move near the axis of an upper level ridge over the South Indian Ocean. The winds are weaker near the axis of the ridge and there will be modest vertical wind shear. Tropical Cyclone Habana could remain the equivalent of a major hurricane during the next 36 hours. Since the core of Habana is so small, the inner end of a rainband could wrap around the existing eye and eyewall. In that case an eyewall replacement cycle would cause Tropical Cyclone Habana to weaken

Tropical Cyclone Habana will move south of a high pressure system over the tropical South Indian Ocean during the next 36 hours. The high will steer Habana toward the east during that time period. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Habana will remain far to the south of Diego Garcia. The high pressure system will weaken with time and a second high pressure system located farther to the south will turn Habana back toward the west early next week.