Tropical Cyclone Keni Brings Winds and Rain to Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Keni brought wind and rain to Fiji on Monday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Cyclone Keni was located at latitude 19.4°S and longitude 178.0°E which put it about 100 miles (160 km) west-southwest of Suva, Fiji.  Keni was moving toward the east-southeast at 21 m.p.h. (34 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 976 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Keni intensified rapidly on Monday into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.  A primary rainband wrapped tightly around the center of circulation and a small eye formed at the center.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Other bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Keni.  The strongest bands were east and south of the center of circulation.  Storms in the core of Keni were generating upper level divergence which was pumping away mass to the east of the tropical cyclone.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 155 miles (250 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Keni will remain in an environment favorable for intensification for about another 12 to 18 hours.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  Keni is moving under the southwestern portion of an upper level ridge which is producing northwesterly winds which blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds were causing some vertical wind shear, but the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification during the next few hours.  Tropical Cyclone Keni will move under strong upper level winds in about 12 to 18 hours and then the wind shear will increase.  Increased wind shear will cause Keni to start to weaken.

The ridge is steering Tropical Cyclone Keni toward the east-southeast and that general motion is expected to continue for another 12 to 18 hours.  An upper level trough approaching from the west will steer Keni more toward the southeast after that time.  On its anticipated track the core and strongest part of Tropical Cyclone Keni will pass southwest of Fiji.  However, clockwise flow around Keni will continue to cause gusty winds and drop heavy rain on Fiji.  The heavy rain could cause flash floods.  Keni could bring wind and rain to Tonga in 18 to 24 hours.