Tropical Cyclone Keni Forms East of Vanuatu

Tropical Cyclone Keni formed east of Vanuatu on Sunday.  At 11:00 p.m EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Keni was located at latitude 16.9°S and longitude 172.0°E which put it about 215 miles (350 km) east of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Keni was moving toward the east-southeast at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 994 mb.

A distinct center of circulation consolidated in an area of showers and thunderstorms between Vanuatu and Fiji on Sunday and the Fiji Meteorological Service designated the system as Tropical Cyclone Keni.   The circulation of Tropical Cyclone Keni organized quickly.  Several bands of thunderstorms wrapped part of the way around the center of circulation.  Other bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of the circulation.  Storms near the center were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Keni will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Keni will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  It is under a small upper level ridge and the upper level winds are weak.  So, there will be little vertical wind shear on Monday.  Tropical Cyclone Keni will intensify during the next 24 hours and it could become the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.

Tropical Cyclone Keni on the southwestern edge of a subtropical ridge which is steering Keni toward the east-southeast.  A general motion toward the east-southeast is expected to continue for another 24 to 36 hours.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Keni could be approaching Fiji within 24 hours.  Keni could be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon when it near Fiji.  Keni will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to parts of Fiji.  The heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations.