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Tropical Cyclone Gretel Forms Over Coral Sea

Tropical Cyclone Gretel formed over the Coral Sea east of Australia on Saturday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Cyclone Gretel was located at latitude 18.2°S and longitude 158.7°E which put it about 380 miles (615 km) west-northwest of Poum, New Caledonia.  Gretel was moving toward the east-southeast at 22 m.p.h. (36 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 992 mb.

The circulation around an area of low pressure over the Coral Sea became better organized on Saturday and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology designated the system as Tropical Cyclone Gretel.  The circulation around Gretel was still organizing.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing in all parts of the circulation.  Thunderstorms near the center of Gretel began to generate upper level divergence which pumped mass away from the tropical cyclone.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Gretel will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next day or so.  Gretel will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move under a small upper level ridge.  The winds are weaker in the center of the ridge and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Gretel will intensify during the next 24 to 36 hours and it could strengthen into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.

Tropical Cyclone Gretel will move around the southwestern portion of a subtropical high pressure system over the South Pacific Ocean.  The high will steer Gretel toward the east-southeast.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Gretel could pass just west of New Caledonia during the next 18 to 30 hours.  Gretel will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to New Caledonia on Sunday.  The center of Tropical Cyclone Gretel could approach Norfolk Island in about 36 hours.