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Somerset Squall

Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston

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A new tropical cyclone has formed east of the islands of Vanuatu. Winds are at 35kts according to JTWC. The system has rapidly consolidated, and further rapid strengthening is expected as shear is low, waters warm, and 11P is benefitting from good radial outflow. JTWC expect a peak of 105kts on the south-southeast track, before cooler waters and increased shear begin to weaken 11P.

 

It is perhaps quite lucky therefore that the current forecast track keeps the potentially intense 11P's core away from land. However, it is a big system, so rains will affect Vanuatu and Fiji from this system (and to some extent, New Caledonia).

sh1116.thumb.gif.4dec3b12525bf43571e0b7420160210.1800.goes15.x.ir1km_bw.11PELEVE

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11P has been named Winston and now has winds of 55kts according to JTWC. Further rapid strengthening is expected as shear is low, waters hot (at around 31°C) and outflow excellent. JTWC are forecasting a peak of 110kts, though there is a chance that Winston could become stronger than this. Winston is forecast to head generally south along the western side of a ridge to the east. It will then turn eastwards as the cyclone reaches the south side of the ridge. By day 5, JTWC forecast a northeastwards motion as Winston reaches the southeast side of the ridge. It seems like Winston won't be moving out of the tropics beyond day 5 if this track verifies, instead, pushing north back into warmer water. Winston will have weakened by this point as it will habe traversed cooler waters, but JTWC forecast the weakening to stop by day 5.

 

sh1116-2.thumb.gif.a235bcfe0625bc6c7ac45

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Winston has rapidly intensified and now has 1-min sustained winds estimated at 95kts, a high end cat 2 on the SS scale. The severe cyclone has developed  a small, well defined eye that has recently cleared out. Further rapid strengthening is likely.

 

20160212.0900.goes15.x.ir1km_bw.11PWINST

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Winston peaked at 110kts. The cyclone has weakened due to increased shear. As I mentioned before though, in the longer term, restrengthening is forecast as Winston moves back into low shear warm water conditions. Some further weakening is forecast before this occurs however.

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Shear and cooler waters have weakened Winston to 50kts. However, is now moving northeastwards, back towards warmer water and into an area of lower shear. This should allow Winston to restrengthen long term. The steering pattern in the long term becomes more complex however. The ridge to the northwest of Winston is forecast to weaken, and eventually, a building ridge to the southeast will assume steering influence. The net result is a period of slow motion then a reversed track, back towards the west-southwest by day 5. This is subject to change and heavily depends on the timings and positions of the ridges.

 

sh1116-3.thumb.gif.332a93ec2d1a310801993

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Winston is re-intensifying, and now has winds of 65kts. On the eastward track, Winston is expected to strengthen to 100kts then loop to the west. Models are still quite confident in this reversal of track.

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Winston continues to re-intensify, with winds currently at 90kts according to JTWC. Winston is slowing as the steering influence is transferring between the two ridges as described above. Winston is forecast to head back to the west for a few days, but then turn back southeast yet again in the longer term as a building ridge to the northeast this time gains influence longer term.

 

sh1116-4.thumb.gif.483694605544fc280968f

 

That is what a you call a drunken system lol. The steering currents in and around Australia and the Coral Sea can often provide tracks like this however.

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Winston is a category 5 and looks set to hit Fiji dead-on with the same intensity, winds sustained at 125mph:

Winston.thumb.jpg.a1373db939912f5b82a2e6

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Yes, this looks very concerning. Winston is moving briskly westwards and is now on direct course for Fiji (previous forecasts had Winston moving just to the south of Fiji). Winds have increased to 125kts according to JTWC, which is a cat 4 on the SS scale (but yes, it is a cat 5 on the Australian scale). Cat 5 on the SS scale is not put of the question either as shear is low, waters warm and there is strong dual outflow channels causing the convection around the well defined eye to be quite intense. JTWC forecast a peak of 135kts before Winston slams into the east coast of Fiji, but there is a chance it could make it to cat 5 (140kts and above). This only matters in terms of statistics however, because either way, Fiji are in big trouble from a system as intense as Winston is.

 

sh1116.thumb.gif.8bf318ddb8c581424a6f71d

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I'm not sure exactly how true it is, but lots of Meteorologists on Twitter are remarking that TC's this strong are almost unheard of in Fiji, which if true just adds to the likelihood of heavy casualties coming from this system.

Raw T-numbers are 7.7 currently, suggesting that sustained winds are much higher than what's being forecast by the JTWC, though I wouldn't rely on the T-numbers alone.

Winston's still looking good on Satellite too:

 avn0-lalo.gif

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Still maintaining strength - raw T number of 8.3 at last check.

Crazy CIMSS intensity forecast.   245lWsh.gif

First visible.                                           aqrYPjl.jpg

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There have been some monsters over the last 12 months. This one being no exception. 

 

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Looking very nasty.

fiji.thumb.jpg.075ed4bd408c8f27b509698be

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=342288

Looks to be heading bang over a tiny island called Nananu-i-ra (just off the north coast of Viti Levu).:sorry: I spent 2 incredible months there many many years ago and didn't want to leave such a spectacularly beautiful island and lovely people. I dread to think about the devastation this could wreak.

fiji1.thumb.jpg.b779243798136ddabc524a3e

(not my photo ....my photos of nananu-i-ra are pre digital)

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Winston has winds of 145kts according to JTWC, so it is the first cat 5 on the SS scale worldwide in 2016. Get this, they are forecasting a 160kt peak. If this verifies, Winston would be in the history books. What is going to be more telling is the devastation Winston will have on Fiji.

 

20160219.2022.goes15.x.vis1km_high.11PWI

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Where is the best place to get updated satellite shots?

........as there still seems to be scope for it to track north/south or right over the centre of Viti Levu -though can't see any of these options as being good for Fiji

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15 minutes ago, Kiwi said:

Where is the best place to get updated satellite shots?

........as there still seems to be scope for it to track north/south or right over the centre of Viti Levu -though can't see any of these options as being good for Fiji

I've been using this close-up Himawari one.

http://www.data.jma.go.jp/mscweb/data/himawari/sat_img.php?area=hp3

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Latest JTWC estimates put Winston at 160kts, which, if confirmed at the 3am advisory, will make Winston the strongest South Hemisphere cyclone on record, beating Zoe (155kts) from 2002 and Monica (155kts) from 2006.

 

1957764_10209016821917292_13695353452862

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6 hours ago, Somerset Squall said:

Latest JTWC estimates put Winston at 160kts, which, if confirmed at the 3am advisory, will make Winston the strongest South Hemisphere cyclone on record, beating Zoe (155kts) from 2002 and Monica (155kts) from 2006.

 

1957764_10209016821917292_13695353452862

 

Just... WOW. What a beast... Praying for safety for the islands who have been hit hard by Winston. Here's a loop (click to activate), which may well be one for the record books.

Winston.thumb.gif.84a084a84692e26613a863

IR-enhanced satellite loop of Winston.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Somerset Squall said:

Latest JTWC estimates put Winston at 160kts, which, if confirmed at the 3am advisory, will make Winston the strongest South Hemisphere cyclone on record, beating Zoe (155kts) from 2002 and Monica (155kts) from 2006.

 

1957764_10209016821917292_13695353452862

The eye shows up very clearly in the satellite shots at http://www.data.jma.go.jp/mscweb/data/himawari/sat_img.php?area=hp3 (Thanks for that link Nouska)

Eye seems to have made landfall in the NE of Viti Levu, close to Rakiraki and Nananu-i-ra island. Bad news for that area, but at least I suppose its good news that the eye didn't  hit closer to the far more densely populated city of Suva, 50 miles or so to the south. (I'm sort of asuming that the strongest winds would be wrapped around the eye......is this right?).

What is Winston likely to do now? My main worry is that it'll track along the towns and villages on the north coast and exit Viti Levu close to Fiji's 2nd largest city Lautoka. Also bound to cause problems out in the Yasawa island group....just to NW of Viti Levu.

 

Some scary footage on here

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11592782

 

also more info here;

http://www.weatherwatch.co.nz/content/category-5-cyclone-winston-about-make-landfall-viti-levu-fijis-main-island

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Winston is impacting Fiji as I type (landfall on Viti Levu approx 1 hour ago), with the government there warning of a "grievous" experience.  It is alarming.  These are the figures I have read:

Central pressure 917mb

Wind gusts up to 225mph/360kmh!

Sustained winds 121mph

 

I cannot comprehend how frightening that must be.  Fiji is well-prepared but will still need significant aid after this.

 

 

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It turns out that the extreme T values from CIMSS yesterday were caused by a coding glitch, which makes a bit more sense. Hopefully a large number of deaths may have been avoided as the eye wall seems to have made landfall away from a densely populated area. The band of the highest winds extended about 18km from the eye, so hopefully Suva will have missed the worst of the wind as suggested.

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A 'state of natural disaster' has been declared for the whole of Fiji:

 

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Special Weather Bulletin Number THIRTY FIVE for Fiji ON SEVERE
TROPICAL CYCLONE WINSTON
ISSUED FROM RSMC NADI at 8:07pm on Saturday the 20th of February 2016

TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING.

A HURRICANE WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR SOUTHERN HALF OF VANUA LEVU,
NORTHWESTERN HALF OF VITI LEVU FROM KOROLEVU TO KOROVOU,YASAWA AND
MAMANUCA GROUP AND OVALAU.

A STORM WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR THE REST OF VITI LEVU, YASAWA
AND MAMANUCA GROUP, KORO, NAIRAI, GAU AND BATIKI.

A GALE WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR THE REST OF FIJI.

A DAMAGING HEAVY SWELL WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR LOW LYING COASTAL
AREAS OF FIJI.

A HEAVY RAIN WARNING REMAINS IN FORCE FOR FIJI.

SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE WINSTON CENTRE [915HPA] CATEGORY 5 WAS
LOCATED NEAR 17.4 SOUTH 178.7 EAST OR ABOUT 40KM NORTH-NORTHWEST OF
OVALAU OR ABOUT 90KM NORTH-NORTHEAST OF SUVA AT 6PM TODAY. THE
CYCLONE IS MOVING WEST-SOUTHWEST AT ABOUT 22KM/HR. CLOSE TO ITS
CENTRE, THE CYCLONE IS ESTIMATED TO HAVE AVERAGE WINDS OF 230KM/HR
AND MOMENTARY GUSTS TO 325KM/HR.

ON THIS TRACK, THE CYCLONE IS EXPECTED TO BE LOCATED ABOUT 20KM
NORTHWEST OF NADI OR ABOUT 70KM SOUTHEAST OF VIWA 6AM TOMORROW AND
ABOUT 120KM WEST-SOUTHWEST OF NADI OR ABOUT 110KM SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF
NADI AT 6PM TOMORROW.

VERY DESTRUCTIVE WINDS MAY BEGIN SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE THE CYCLONE
CENTRE PASSES OVER HEAD OR NEARBY.

FOR SOUTHERN HALF OF VANUA LEVU, NORTHWESTERN HALF OF VITI LEVU FROM
KOROLEVU TO KOROVOU,YASAWA AND MAMANUCA GROUP AND OVALAU:
EXPECT VERY DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE FORCE WINDS WITH AVERAGE SPEED OF
220KM/HR AND MOMENTARY GUST TO 315KM/HR. HEAVY RAIN AND SQUALLY
THUNDERSTORMS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING WITH SEA
FLOODING OF LOW LYING AREAS.

FOR HE REST OF VITI LEVU, YASAWA AND MAMANUCA GROUP, KORO, NAIRAI,
GAU AND BATIKI:
EXPECT DESTRUCTIVE STORM FORCE WINDS WITH AVERAGE SPEED OF 110KM/HR
AND MOMENTARY GUST TO 155KM/HR. HEAVY RAIN AND SQUALLY THUNDERSTORMS.
DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA FLOODING OF LOW LYING
AREAS.

FOR THE REST OF FIJI:
EXPECT DAMAGING GALE FORCE WINDS WITH AVERAGE SPEED OF 85KM/HR AND
MOMENTARY GUST TO 120KM/HR. PERIODS OF HEAVY RAIN AND SQUALLY
THUNDERSTORMS. DAMAGING HEAVY SWELLS. FLOODING INCLUDING SEA
FLOODING OF LOW LYING AREAS.

The following information is provided especially for the mariners:
EXPECT WINDS OF HURRICANE FORCE AND PHENOMENAL SEAS WITHIN 30
NAUTICAL MILES OF CENTRE. STORM FORCE WINDS AND VERY HIGH SEAS OUT TO
ABOUT 50 NAUTICAL MILES FROM CENTRE.GALE FORCE WINDS AND HIGH SEAS
OUT TO ABOUT 120 NAUTICAL MILES OF CENTRE.

THE NEXT SPECIAL WEATHER BULLETIN FOR FIJI ON SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE
WINSTON WILL BE ISSUED AT 10PM TODAY OR EARLIER.

http://www.met.gov.fj/

 

Edit:

Looking at satellite footage Winston seems to be moving along the North coast faster than predicted and currently 9.25pm Fiji time (9.25am GMT) the eye looks to be very close to Lautoka and just to the NNE of Nadi.

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