Tropical Cyclone Fani Develops East of Sri Lanka

Tropical Cyclone Fani developed over the southern Bay of Bengal east of Sri Lanka on Saturday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Cyclone Fani was located at latitude 7.8°N and longitude 88.6°E which put it about 635 miles (1020 km) east-southeast of Chennai, India.  Fani was moving toward the north-northwest at 15 m.p.h. (24 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 989 mb.

A distinct low level center of circulation formed on the eastern side of a cluster of thunderstorms over the southern Bay of Bengal on Saturday and the India Meteorological Department designated the system as Tropical Cyclone Fani.  The circulation around Fani was still organizing.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing.  Many of the stronger thunderstorms were developing in two clusters which were east and northwest of the center of circulation.  Bands in other parts of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Fani will move into an environment that is more favorable for intensification.  Fani is currently under the southern part of an upper level ridge.  The ridge is producing easterly winds which are causing moderate vertical wind shear.  The wind shear is the primary factor slowing the intensification of Tropical Cyclone Fani.  Fani is forecast to move under the axis of the ridge where the upper level winds are weaker.  There will be less vertical wind shear when that happens.  Tropical Cyclone Fani will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 31°C.  So, intensification is very likely when the wind shear decreases.  Fani is likely to strengthen into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.  Rapid intensification could occur if the inner core of the circulation becomes more well developed.

Tropical Cyclone Fani will move around the western end of a subtropical ridge over southeast Asia.  The ridge will steer Fani toward the north-northwest during the next several days.  It will move more toward the north when it moves around the western end of the ridge.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Fani will move toward the northern Bay of Bengal.