Tropical Cyclone 19P Forms Southwest of Samoa

Tropical Cyclone 19P formed southwest of Samoa on Monday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Cyclone 19P was located at latitude 15.2°S and longitude 173.3°W which put it about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Apia, Samoa.  It was moving toward the west-northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1000 mb.

A small tight center of circulation formed within an area of thunderstorms south of Samoa on Monday.  A thin primary rainband wrapped tightly around the center of circulation.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms developed in the east half of the circulation.  The bands of showers in the western part of the tropical cyclone were much weaker.  Thunderstorms in the core of the circulation generated upper level divergence which pumped out mass.  The circulation of Tropical Cyclone 19P is small.  Winds to tropical storm force only extend out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone 19P will be moving through an environment that will be marginally favorable for intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  Tropical Cyclone 19P is under the eastern end of an upper level ridge which is producing southerly winds that are blowing toward toward the top of the circulation.  The upper level winds are generating moderate vertical wind shear which is inhibiting upper level divergence to the south of the tropical cyclone.  Given the marginal conditions Tropical Cyclone 19P could maintain its intensity or slowly strengthen.  However, since the circulation is so small, a significant increase in vertical wind shear could also quickly weaken the tropical cyclone.

The same subtropical ridge that steered Tropical Cyclone Donna is also steering Tropical Cyclone 19P toward the west-northwest.  A general westerly motion is expected for the next two or three days.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone 19P could approach Fiji in about 48 hours.