Tropical Cyclone Ockhi Strengthens to Hurricane Equivalent

Tropical Cyclone Ockhi strengthened to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon on Friday as it moved over the Arabian Sea west of India.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Ockhi was located at latitude 9.4°N and longitude 71.7°E which put it about 655 miles (1055 km) south of Mumbai, India.  Ockhi was moving toward the west-northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 115 m.p.h. (185 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 969 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Ockhi continued to intensify on Friday and it is now the equivalent of a hurricane or typhoon.  An eye has appeared intermittently on satellite imagery.  A ring of strong storms surrounded the eye, although there have been occasional breaks in the northeastern segment of the ring.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms were occurring outside the core of the circulation.  There were more showers and thunderstorms in the western half of the circulation.  Storms near the core of Tropical Cyclone Ockhi were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the west and north of the cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Ockhi will continue to be in an environment favorable for intensification for another 24 to 48 hours.  Ockhi will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level ridge east of Ockhi is producing southeasterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds may be the reason why more of the stronger rainbands are in the western half of the circulation.  The winds are also causing some vertical wind shear, but the shear is not strong enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Cyclone Ockhi is likely to continue to intensify for another 24 to 36 hours and it could become the equivalent of a major hurricane during the weekend.

The upper level ridge is steering Tropical Cyclone Ockhi toward the west-northwest.  Ockhi will move more toward the north when it reaches the western end of the upper level ridge.  Tropical Cyclone Ockhi will approach the midlatitude westerly winds in two or three days and those winds will start to steer Ockhi more toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Ockhi could approach the west coast of India in three or four days.