Tropical Storm Mekkhala Intensifies Slightly As It Moves Toward the Philippines

At 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Mekkhala was located at 11.6°N and longitude 131.1°E which put it about 540 miles east of Tacloban and about 710 miles east-southeast of Manila, Philippines.  Mekkhala was moving toward the west at 9 m.p.h.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h.  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

East-southeasterly winds in the upper levels continue to cause moderate wind shear over the top of Mekkhala.  It has a well developed low level circulation, but most of the thunderstorm formation is still in the western half of the storm.  Although Mekkhala is over warm Sea Surface Temperatures, the wind shear is inhibiting intensification.  Further intensification is possible, but it will likely be limited.

A subtropical ridge north of Mekkhala is extending westward and the ridge should continue to steer it westward.  The projected path would bring Mekkhala near the central Philippines in 24 to 36 hours.  Potential risks include locally heavy rain, flooding and mudslides.