Tropical Cyclone Mal formed over the South Pacific Ocean northwest of Fiji on Sunday night. At 4:00 a.m. EST on Monday the center of Tropical Cyclone Mal was located at latitude 11.9°S and longitude 172.3°E which put it about 520 miles (840 km) northwest of Nadi, Fiji. Mal was moving toward the southeast at 21 m.p.h. (33 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 994 mb.
A low pressure system over the South Pacific Ocean northwest of Fiji strengthened during Sunday night and the Fiji Meteorological Service designated the system as Tropical Cyclone Mal. The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Mal exhibited more organization on Monday morning. More thunderstorms developed near the center of Mal’s circulation. Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the center of circulation. Storms near the center of circulation generated upper level divergence that pumped mass away to the southeast of the tropical cyclone. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 150 miles (240 km) from the center of Tropical Cyclone Mal.
Tropical Cyclone Mal will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours. Mal will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 28°C. It will move under the western part of an upper level ridge over the South Pacific Ocean. The upper level ridge will produce northerly winds that will blow toward the top of Mal’s circulation. Those winds will cause vertical wind shear, but the wind shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification. Tropical Cyclone Mal will intensify during the next 24 hours. Mal could strengthen to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.
Tropical Cyclone Mal will move around the southwestern part of a high pressure system over the South Pacific Ocean. The high pressure system will steer Mal toward the southeast during the next 24 hours. On its anticipated track, Tropical Cyclone Mal will approach Fiji in 24 hours.
Tropical Cyclone Mal will bring strong winds and locally heavy rain to Fiji. Heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations.