Tag Archives: New Caaledonia

Tropical Cyclone Winston Hits Viti Levu Then Moves West of Fiji

The eye of destructive Tropical Cyclone Winston moved over the northern part of Viti Levu and then continued west of Fiji.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Saturday the center of Tropical Cyclone Winston was located at latitude 17.5°S and longitude 174.4°E which put it about 425 miles (685 km) east of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Winston was moving toward the west at 13 m.p.h. (21 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 130 m.p.h. (210 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 937 mb.  Winston was the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

The core of intense Tropical Cyclone Winston was disrupted as it moved across the northern portion of Viti Levu.  However, the core reorganized once it moved back over water.  It has a well formed eye surrounded by a circular eyewall.  Several rainbands are spiraling around the core.  Thunderstorms in the core of Tropical Cyclone Winston are generating upper level divergence.

The environment surrounding Tropical Cyclone Winston is a little less favorable for intensification.  Winston is still moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  However, an upper level ridge located to the southeast of Winston is generating easterly winds that are inhibiting upper level divergence to the east of the tropical cyclone.  There is still strong upper level divergence in the western half of the circulation.  The vertical wind shear has caused Winston to weaken slowly, but the shear has not been strong enough to disrupt the reorganization of the circulation.  Tropical Cyclone Winston could maintain its intensity or even strengthen somewhat during the next day or two.

The subtropical ridge southeast of Winston is steering the tropical cyclone toward the west and that general motion is expected to continue for at least another 24 hours.  Guidance from numerical models suggest that Winston will turn toward the south early next week.  However, the guidance from the models has consistently forecast a turn to the south that has not yet occurred.  The guidance predicts that Tropical Cyclone Winston will turn south before it can affect Vanuatu, but people in that country should monitor the progress of Winston closely.

Radar and satellite information indicate that the northern eyewall of Tropical Cyclone Winston may have moved over the southern part of Vanua Levu.  The eye moved across the northern part of Viti Levu.  Press reports indicated Winston produced significant wind damage and power outages in parts of Fiji.