Tropical Cyclone Mal intensified to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon over the South Pacific Ocean northwest of Fiji on Monday. At 10:00 p.m. EST on Monday the center of Tropical Cyclone Mal was located at latitude 15.3°S and longitude 175.1°E which put it about 225 miles (365 km) northwest of Nadi, Fiji. Mal was moving toward the south-southeast at 16 m.p.h. (26 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 984 mb.
Tropical Cyclone Mal rapidly intensified to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon northwest of Fiji on Monday. The inner end of a rainband wrapped around the center of Mal’s circulation. Microwave satellite images suggested that an eye was forming at the center of Tropical Cyclone Mal. Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Mal’s circulation. Storms near the core generated upper level divergence that pumped mass away to the southeast of the tropical cyclone.
Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 20 miles (30 km) from the center of Tropical Cyclone Mal. Winds to tropical storm force extended out 155 miles (250 km) from the center of Mal’s circulation.
Tropical Cyclone Mal will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 18 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 is likely to intensify during the next 18 hours.
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 pass just to the west of Viti Levu in 12 to 18 hours.
Tropical Cyclone Mal will bring strong winds and locally heavy rain to Fiji. The strongest winds and heaviest rain will affect Viti Levu. Heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations. Scattered outages of electricity are possible. Tropical Cyclone Mal could cause a storm surge of up to 7 feet (2 meters) along the north and west coasts of Viti Levu.