Tropical Cyclone Mona stalled north of Fiji on Friday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Mona was located at latitude 13.3°S and longitude 176.3°E which put it about 365 miles (590 km) north-northwest of Suva, Fiji. Mona was moving toward the north-northeast at 8 m.p.h. (13 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 1000 mb.
Northerly winds blowing around the western end of an upper level ridge over the South Pacific Ocean strengthened on Friday. Those upper level winds blew across the top of Tropical Cyclone Mona and they caused strong vertical wind shear. The wind shear blew the upper portion of the circulation south of the circulation in the lower and middle levels of Tropical Cyclone Mona. As a result, Mona was steered by the winds lower in the atmosphere, which caused it to stall.
New thunderstorms were redeveloping near the center of Tropical Cyclone Mona. However, many of the bands revolving around the center of Mona still consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds. The strong upper level winds were shearing the tops off of many of the thunderstorms that developed. The upper level winds were also preventing the storms near the center of circulation from generating upper level divergence.
Tropical Cyclone Mona could intensify if the upper level winds weaken. Mona will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C. The upper level ridge will continue to produce northerly winds, but those winds are forecast to weaken a little during the weekend. If the upper level winds weaken and the vertical wind shear lessens, the Tropical Cyclone Mona could strengthen. However, if the stronger upper level winds persist, then Mona could weaken further.
Tropical Cyclone Mona will meander north of Fiji as long as the wind shear prevents the development of a core of taller thunderstorms. If Mona strengthens as forecast, then the upper level ridge will steer the tropical cyclone toward the south. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Mona could approach Fiji in about 48 hours. Some guidance is suggesting the Mona could be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon at that time.
Elsewhere over the South Pacific Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Penny was meandering over the Coral Sea. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Penny was located at latitude 15.9°S and longitude 155.8°E which put it about 670 miles (1080 km) east of Cairns,, Australia. Penny was moving toward the north at 2 m.p.h. (3 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 993 mb.