Tropical Cyclone Sarai Moves Across Southern Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Sarai moved across southern parts of Fiji on Saturday.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Saturday the center of Tropical Cyclone Sarai was located at latitude 19.9°S and longitude 179.1°E which put it about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Matuku, Fiji.  Sarai was moving toward the east at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 95 m.p.h. (155 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 976 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Sarai strengthened into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon on Saturday as it moved across the southern part of Fiji.  The center of Sarai passed south of Kadavu, but raindbands on the northern side of the circulation brought gusty winds and heavy rain to the island.  A ragged eye appeared intermittently on satellite images.  The eye was surrounded by a broken ring of thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Tropical Cyclone Sarai had a large circulation.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 200 miles (320 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Sarai will move into an environment that will become increasingly unfavorable for intensification.  Sarai will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  So, there will be enough energy in the upper ocean to support a strong tropical cyclone.  Tropical Cyclone Sarai will move south of an upper level ridge.  The ridge will produce westerly winds which will get stronger during the next several days.  Those winds will cause moderate vertical wind shear.  When the shear gets stronger, Tropical Cyclone Sarai will start to weaken.

Tropical Cyclone Sarai will move south of a subtropical high pressure system over the South Pacific Ocean.  The high will steer Sarai toward the east during the next 48 hours.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Sarai will move across Matuku, Fiji during the next few hours.  Sarai will reach the Lau Group of Fiji Islands during the next 24 hours.  Tropical Cyclone Sarai could reach parts of Tonga within 48 hours.  Sarai will bring gusty winds and heavy rain to all of those places during the next 48 hours.