Tropical Storm Leepi Forms Southeast of Iwo To

Tropical Storm Leepi formed southeast of Iwo To on Saturday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Leepi was located at latitude 21.5°N and longitude 142.7°W which put it about 285 miles (465 km) south-southeast of Iwo To.  Leepi was moving toward the north-northwest at 12 m.p.h. (19 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 995 mb.

A distinct center of circulation developed within an area of thunderstorms between the Northern Marianas and Iwo To and the Japan Meteorological Agency designated the system as Tropical Storm Leepi.  The distribution of thunderstorms around Tropical Storm Leepi was very asymmetrical.  The stronger thunderstorms were all occurring in bands in the eastern half of the circulation.  The bands in the western half of the circulation consisted of showers and low clouds.  Storms near the center of Leepi were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the northeast of the tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Leepi will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification during the next 12 to 24 hours.  Leepi will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level trough northeast of the tropical storm was producing southwesterly winds which were causing moderate vertical wind shear.  The wind shear was inhibiting the divergence to the west of Tropical Storm Leepi.  The tropical storm also appeared to be drawing drier air into the western side of the circulation.  Leepi could intensify on Sunday, but it will move into an area of stronger upper level winds in a day or so.  Increased vertical wind shear will likely start to weaken Tropical Storm Leepi after that occurrs.

Tropical Storm Leepi will move near the western end of a ridge in the middle troposphere.  The ridge will Leepi in a general motion toward the northwest.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Leepi will move near Iwo To in about 24 hours.  Leepi could approach the northern Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu in about three days.

Elsewhere over the Western North Pacific, Tropical Storm Yagi passed over the southern Ryukyu Islands on Saturday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Yagi was located at latitude 25.6°N and longitude 124.8°E which put it about 250 miles (400 km) east of Taipei, Taiwan.  Yagi was moving toward the west at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

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