Tropical Cyclone Hola passed near the Iles Loyaute (Loyalty Islands) on Friday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola was located at latitude 20.9°S and longitude 168.0°E which put it about 175 miles (280 km) northeast of Noumea, New Caledonia. Hola was moving toward the southeast at 19 m.p.h. (31 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 115 m.p.h. (185 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 969 mb.
The circulation of Tropical Cyclone Hola exhibited signs of weakening on Friday. The eye appeared and disappeared intermittently. There were occasional breaks in the rings of thunderstorms around the intermittent eye. The distribution of rainbands became more asymmetrical. All of the stronger bands were south and east of the center of circulation. The bands north and west of the center consisted primarily of showers and low clouds. An upper level trough off the east coast of Australia was producing northwesterly winds which were blowing toward the top of the circulation. Those winds were also causing moderate vertical wind shear and they may have tilted the upper portion of the circulation toward the southeast.
Tropical Cyclone Hola will weaken during the next few days. Hola will initially pass over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C. However, the upper level trough will continue to cause moderate vertical wind shear which will weaken Hola. Tropical Cyclone Hola will also move over colder water when it moves farther to the south. The colder water and vertical wind shear will cause the structure of Tropical Cyclone Hola to transition gradually to an extratropical cyclone during the next several days.
The upper level trough is pushing Tropical Cyclone Hola toward the southeast and a general southeasterly motion will continue. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Hola will move away from the Iles Loyaute and New Caledonia. Hola could approach northern New Zealand in a couple of days.
The strongest winds and heavy rain were occurring on the eastern side of Tropical Cyclone Hola. Hola will continue to bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to the Iles Loyaute until it moves away. It should have minimal impacts on New Caledonia. Tropical Cyclone Hola could make landfall on the North Island of New Zealand in two or three days. It could be a strong extratropical cyclone at that time and it could bring strong wind and heavy rain to parts of northern New Zealand.
Tropical Cyclone Hola stalled between Vanuatu and New Caledonia on Thursday. At 10:00 p.m. EST on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola was located at latitude 18.4°S and longitude 165.5°E which put it about 200 miles (320 km) west of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Hola was moving toward the south at 2 m.p.h. (3 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 961 mb.
Tropical Cyclone Hola weakened slightly while it move slowly between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The small eye was no longer visible on satellite images. Thunderstorms were still occurring in the core of the circulation. Most of the bands of showers and thunderstorms were in the eastern half of the circulation. There were fewer thunderstorms west of the center of circulation. The wind field exhibited a similar asymmetrical distribution. Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 150 miles (240 km) in the eastern half of the circulation and about 100 miles (160 km) in the western half of the circulation.
Tropical Cyclone Hola will move through an environment marginally favorable for intensification on Friday. Hola will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C. An upper level trough east of Australia will produce northwesterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation. Those winds will cause increasing vertical wind shear and the shear could become strong enough to inhibit intensification. Tropical Cyclone Hola could intensify during the next 12 to 24 hours, but it will begin to weaken when the shear increases.
Tropical Cyclone Hola is near the western end of a subtropical ridge and it was in a region where the steering winds were weak on Thursday. The upper level trough east of Australia will start to steer Hola toward the southeast on Friday. On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Hola could approach the Iles Loyaute (the Loyalty Islands) within 24 hours. Hola will likely still be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon at that time.