Tropical Cyclone Hola Develops Over Vanuatu

Tropical Cyclone Hola developed over Vanuatu on Tuesday.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola was located at latitude 16.2°S and longitude 168.1°E which put it near Ambrym and about 110 miles (180 km) north of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Hola was moving toward the west-southwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 992 mb.

A large area of showers and thunderstorms northwest of Fiji moved slowly westward toward Vanuatu during the past few days.  The system was designated Tropical Cyclone Hola when a center of circulation developed in the area of storms on Tuesday.  Thunderstorms formed on all sides of the center, but there were more thunderstorms on the western side of the center.  Bands of showers and storms were beginning to revolve around the core of the circulation.  The storms near the center were starting to generate upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Hola will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next two or three days.  Hola will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds over that area are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Hola should intensify during the next 48 to 72 hours.  Rapid intensification could occur once the core of the circulation is fully organized.  Hola could strengthen into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon during the next 24 hours.  Hola could become the equivalent of a major hurricane within three days.

Tropical Cyclone Hola is moving near the northwestern end of a subtropical ridge which is steering Hola toward the west-southwest.  A slow motion toward the southwest is forecast during the next day or so while Hola rounds the northwestern end of the ridge.  Tropical Cyclone Hola will turn more toward the southeast after it rounds the subtropical ridge.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola will move near Ambrym, Malekula, Paama, Lopevi, and Epi.  Hola is forecast to pass west of Port Vila, but it could be near New Caledonia and the Iles Loyaute in two or three days.

Tropical Cyclone Hola will strengthen as it moves slowly toward the southwest during the next 24 hours.  The stronger tropical cyclone will produce gusty winds and it will drop heavy rain over the central parts of Vanuatu.  Heavy rain will fall over Espiritu Santo, Maewo, Ambae, Pentecost, Malo, Ambrym, Paama, Lopevi, Tongoa, Epi, Emae, the Shepherd Islands, Nguna, Emao, and Efate.  Locally heavy rain could create the potential for floods in some of those locations.