Tropical Cyclone Winston Stalls Between Vanuatu and Fiji

Steering currents weakened on Sunday and Tropical Cyclone Winston stalled about half way between Vanuatu and Fiji.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Winston was located at latitude 18.0°S and longitude 172.5°E which put it about 300 miles (480 km) east of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Winston was moving toward the west-southwest at 3 m.p.h. (5 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 110 m.p.h. (175 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 135 m.p.h. (215 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 952 mb.

Vertical wind shear over Winston decreased on Sunday and the organization of the tropical cyclone improved.  The eye has become more visible on satellite images and thunderstorms surrounding the eye are generating more upper level divergence.  Easterly winds which were blowing over the top of Winston diminished and the upper level divergence is again flowing out in all directions.

Tropical Cyclone Winston is in an environment that favors intensification.  It is over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  There is not much vertical wind shear and Winston is likely to intensify during the next 24 hours.

Winston has moved into an area that is between two subtropical ridges.  As a result, it is in an area where the steering winds are not very strong.  The forward motion of Winston has slowed and there is some indication that it may be turning southward.  The guidance from numerical models is forecasting a southerly or southeasterly motion during the next 24 to 48 hours.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Winston is predicted to stay east of Vanuatu.  However, a more westerly track could bring it closer to that country.