Tropical Cyclone Fakir Strengthens Rapidly Northwest of La Reunion

Tropical Cyclone Fakir strengthened rapidly northwest of La Reunion on Monday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Cyclone Fakir was located at latitude 18.2°S and longitude 54.5°E which put it about 220 miles (355 km) north-northwest of St. Denis, La Reunion.  Fakir was moving toward the southeast at 22 m.p.h. (35 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 992 mb.

A center of circulation developed early Monday in an area of thunderstorms east of Madagascar and the system was designated as Tropical Cyclone Fakir.  The circulation organized quickly and in a few hours Fakir strengthened into the equivalent of a strong tropical storm.  A primary rainband wrapped around the southern and western sides of the center of circulation.  There were some indications of the potential development of an eye at the center.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms developed south and east of the core of Tropical Cyclone Fakir.  Storms in the core of Fakir generated strong upper level divergence which pumped away mass to the southeast of the circulation.  The removal of mass allowed the surface pressure to decrease quickly and the winds to increase in response to that decrease.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Fakir could remain in an environment favorable for intensification for another 12 to 18 hours.  Fakir will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  So, there is sufficient energy in the upper ocean to support intensification.  Tropical Cyclone Fakir is moving around the southwestern portion of an upper level ridge located over the South Indian Ocean.  The ridge is producing northwesterly winds which were blowing toward the top of the circulation.  The winds were causing moderate vertical wind shear, but they were not strong enough to prevent Fakir from strengthening rapidly on Monday.  Tropical Cyclone Fakir could become the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon during the next 12 to 18 hours.  Fakir will move under stronger upper level winds in a day or so and then it will start to weaken because of the stronger vertical wind shear.

The upper level ridge is steering Tropical Cyclone Fakir rapidly toward the southeast and that general motion is expected to continue for several more days.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Fakir will approach Mauritius and La Reunion in about 12 hours.  It could be nearly the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon at that time.  Fakir will bring gusty winds and heavy rain to Mauritius and La Reunion.  Minor wind damage is possible.  Locally heavy rain could cause flash floods.  The most likely track takes the center of Tropical Cyclone Fakir between Mauritius and La Reunion.  The western side of the circulation is a little weaker than the eastern side is.  If Fakir follows that track, then the strongest wind and heaviest rain could affect Mauritius.  However, Fakir will also affect La Reunion.