Tropical Cyclone Haleh Strengthens to Equivalent of a Major Hurricane

Tropical Cyclone Haleh strengthened into the equivalent of a major hurricane on Monday.  At 10:00 a.m. EST on Monday the center of Tropical Cyclone Haleh was centered at latitude 18.9°S and longitude 72.3°E which put it about 800 miles (1290 km) south of Diego Garcia.  Haleh was moving toward the south-southwest at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 948 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Haley rapidly intensified into the equivalent of a major hurricane during the past 24 hours.  A circular eye was clearly evident on satellite imagery.  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Storms near the core of the circulation were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical cyclone.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Haleh.  The strongest bands were in the southern half of the circulation.  Bands in the northern half of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.

Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 50 miles (80 km) from the center of Tropical Cyclone Haleh.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 210 miles (330 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Tropical Cyclone Haleh was 22.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 16.0 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 38.1.

Tropical Cyclone Haleh will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Haleh will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds will be weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Haleh could intensify during the next day or so.  Eventually, Haleh will move over cooler water and it will start to weaken when that occurs.

Tropical Cyclone Haleh will move around the western end of a subtropical ridge over the South Indian Ocean.  The ridge will steer Haleh toward the south-southwest.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Haleh is forecast to remain well to the southeast of Mauritius and La Reunion.