Tropical Cyclone Hola Stalls Between Vanuatu and New Caledonia

Tropical Cyclone Hola stalled between Vanuatu and New Caledonia on Thursday.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola was located at latitude 18.4°S and longitude 165.5°E which put it about 200 miles (320 km) west of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Hola was moving toward the south at 2 m.p.h. (3 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 961 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Hola weakened slightly while it move slowly between Vanuatu and New Caledonia.  The small eye was no longer visible on satellite images.  Thunderstorms were still occurring in the core of the circulation.  Most of the bands of showers and thunderstorms were in the eastern half of the circulation.  There were fewer thunderstorms west of the center of circulation.  The wind field exhibited a similar asymmetrical distribution.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 150 miles (240 km) in the eastern half of the circulation and about 100 miles (160 km) in the western half of the circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Hola will move through an environment marginally favorable for intensification on Friday.  Hola will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level trough east of Australia will produce northwesterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds will cause increasing vertical wind shear and the shear could become strong enough to inhibit intensification.  Tropical Cyclone Hola could intensify during the next 12 to 24 hours, but it will begin to weaken when the shear increases.

Tropical Cyclone Hola is near the western end of a subtropical ridge and it was in a region where the steering winds were weak on Thursday.  The upper level trough east of Australia will start to steer Hola toward the southeast on Friday.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola could approach the Iles Loyaute (the Loyalty Islands) within 24 hours.  Hola will likely still be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon at that time.