Tropical Cyclone Develops Near Western Australia, Watch Issued

A tropical cyclone currently designated as 14S (SH14) developed near the coast of Western Australia on Wednesday and a Watch was issued for a portion of the coast.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone 14S was located at latitude 17.1°S and longitude 120.2°E which put it about 250 miles (400 km) north-northeast of Port Hedland, Australia.  The tropical cyclone was moving toward the west-southwest at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 998 mb.  A Watch was issued for a portion of the coast of Western Australia from Wallal Downs to Onslow including Port Hedland, Karratha and Dampier.

A Tropical Low previously located over Western Australia moved westward over the South Indian Ocean on Wednesday and it strengthened into Tropical Cyclone 14S.  The circulation around the tropical cyclone was still organizing on Wednesday night.  More thunderstorms were forming near the center of circulation.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing and the bands were revolving around the center of the tropical cyclone.  Storms near the center began to generate upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone 14S will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 48 hours.  The tropical cyclone will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move under the northwestern part of an upper level ridge centered over northern Australia.  The ridge will produce easterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds will cause moderate vertical wind shear, but the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Cyclone 14S will continue to intensify and it could strengthen into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon in 24 to 36 hours.

Tropical Cyclone 14S will move around the northwestern end of a high pressure system over Australia.  The high will steer the tropical cyclone toward the west-southwest during the next 12 to 24 hours.  Tropical Cyclone 14S will turn more toward the south on Friday when it reaches the western end of the high pressure system.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone 14S could approach the coast of Western Australia between Port Hedland and Karratha in about 48 hours.  It will likely be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon when it approaches the coast.

Elsewhere over the South Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Francisco formed northeast of Rodrigues.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Francisco was located at latitude 17.8°S and longitude 70.4°E which put it about 485 miles (785 km) east-northeast of Port Mathurin, Mauritius.  Francisco was moving toward the east-southeast at 13 m.p.h. (20 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 998 mb.

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