Tropical Cyclone Victor Moves Toward Tonga

Tropical Cyclone Victor moved slowly westward toward Tonga as it passed south of Niue on Wednesday.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Victor was located at latitude 21.5°S and longitude 169.8°W which put it about 155 miles (250 km) south of Niue and about 370 miles (595 km) east of Tonga.  Victor was moving toward the west at 4 m.p.h. (6 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 977 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Victor still looks like the equivalent of a hurricane on satellite images.  It has a well formed eye which is surrounded by a ring of thunderstorms.  The thunderstorms near the center of Victor are generating a large area of upper level divergence.  Convection outside of the core of Victor is somewhat asymmetrical.  Most of the stronger thunderstorms are located in bands south and east of the center of circulation.  There are few tall thunderstorms in the northwestern part of Victor.

Tropical Cyclone Victor continues to be in an environment that is favorable for intensification.  Victor is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C.  The upper level winds near Victor are light and there is no appreciable vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Victor has the potential to intensify during the next 24 hours.

A subtropical ridge south of Victor is steering the tropical cyclone slowly toward the west.  The ridge is expected to continue to steer Victor toward the west, but at a faster speed, during the next day or two.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Victor could be approaching Tonga in about 36 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Victor passed far enough south of Niue that the stronger winds and heavy rain did not affect the island.  Large waves and surf may have affected some of the coastal areas.  Tropical Cyclone Victor could bring wind and rain to Tonga in two or three days.