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Powerful Tropical Cyclone Harold Brings Wind and Rain to Fiji

Powerful Tropical Cyclone Harold brought strong wind and heavy rain to parts of Fiji on Tuesday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Harold was located at latitude 19.4°S and longitude 178.7°E which put it about 30 miles (50 km) southeast of Tavuki, Fiji.  Harold was moving toward the east-southeast at 22 m.p.h (35 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 140 m.p.h. (225 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 165 m.p.h. (270 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 930 mb.

The eye of Tropical Cyclone Harold passed directly over Kadavu Island, Fiji on Tuesday night.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Harold was 28.3.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 19.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 48.0.  Tropical Cyclone Harold probably caused significant damage to Kadavu.  Harold also brought gusty winds and heavy rain to Viti Levu.  Flash floods were likely to have occurred in areas that received heavy rain.

Tropical Cyclone Harold strengthened on Tuesday after it moved away from Vanuatu where it caused significant damage.  The eye became evident on satellite imagery again and a solid ring of thunderstorms formed a strong eyewall.  The strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Storms around the core of Harold generated strong upper level divergence which pumped mass away from the tropical cyclone.  The size of the circulation around Tropical Cyclone Harold continued to increase in size.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 65 miles (105 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 250 miles (400 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Harold will move into an area less favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Harold will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  It will move under the southwestern part of an upper level ridge over the South Pacific Ocean.  The ridge will produce northwesterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds will increase in speed during the next 48 hours and the increased vertical wind shear will cause Tropical Cyclone Harold to weaken.  Harold could weaken slowly during the next 12 to 24 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Harold will move around the southwestern part of a high pressure system over the South Pacific Ocean.  The high will steer Harold quickly toward the east-southeast.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Harold could reach Tonga within 12 to 18 hours.  Harold will be the equivalent of a major hurricane when it reaches Tonga.