Tropical Storm Walaka Forms South of Hawaii

Tropical Storm Walaka formed south of Hawaii on Saturday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Walaka was located at latitude 11.5°N and longitude 159.1°W which put it about 680 miles (1095 km) south of Honolulu, Hawaii.  Walaka was moving toward the west at 15 m.p.h. (24 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 1005 mb.

A distinct low level center of circulation formed within an area of thunderstorms south of Hawaii on Saturday and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Walaka.  The circulation around Walaka was still organizing.  Most of the thunderstorms were developing in bands south and east of the center of circulation.  Bands north and west of the center consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.  Storms south and east of the center were beginning to generate upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Walaka will be moving through an environment that will be favorable for intensification.  Walaka will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  It will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Storm Walaka will strengthen into a hurricane and it could intensify rapidly once the inner core is well organized around an eye.

Tropical Storm Walaka will move south of a subtropical high pressure system over the Central Pacific Ocean during the next two or three days.  The ridge will steer Walaka in a general westward direction.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Walaka will remain south of Hawaii.