Tropical Cyclone Claudia Strengthens to Equivalent of Hurricane/Typhoon

Tropical Cyclone Claudia strengthened into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon over the South Indian Ocean northwest of Australia on Sunday.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Claudia was located at latitude 16.0°S and longitude 117.9°E which put it about 290 miles (465 km) north of Port Hedland, Australia.  Claudia was moving toward the west-southwest at 25 m.p.h. (40 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 971 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Claudia strengthened over the warm water northwest of Australia on Sunday.  A small circular eye formed at the center of circulation.  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Claudia.  The stronger rainbands were in the western half of the circulation.  Bands in the eastern half of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.  Storms near the core of the circulation were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the west of the tropical cyclone.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 100 miles (160 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Claudia will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Claudia will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move around the northwestern part of an upper level ridge centered over Australia.  The ridge will produce easterly winds which will blow toward the top of the tropical cyclone.  Those winds will produce moderate vertical wind shear.  The wind shear will slow the rate of intensification, but the shear will not be strong enough to prevent Claudia from getting strong during the next 24 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Claudia will move around the northwestern side of a high pressure system over Australia.  The high will steer Claudia toward the west-southwest.  On its anticipated track the core of Tropical Cyclone Claudia will remain well off the coast of Western Australia.