Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert
The area of convection previously located near 20.8S 171.5E is now located near 17.2S 171.5E, approximately 240 nautical miles west of Fiji (north of New Zealand).
The system has been strengthening, and the formation of a significant tropical cyclone is possible within 200 nautical miles either side of a line from 16.9S 172.3E to 21.1S 165.9E, within the next 6 to 24 hours.
However, available data does not justify issuance of numbered tropical cyclone warnings at this time.
The system is moving westward at 6 knots. Maximum sustained surface winds are estimated at 25 to 30 knots, and minimum sea level pressure is estimated to be near 1000mb.
Animated satellite imagery indicates significantly improved consolidation over the past 6 hours with convective banding wrapping into a defined low-level circulation center (LLCC), located near 17.2S 171.5E according to METSAT imagery.
An SSMI image showed strong banding over the nothern semi-circle with weaker, formative banding over the southeast quadrant, and a somewhat elongated LLCC.
A QUIKSCAT image also shows a stronger (but elongated) LLCC with 25 to 30 knot unflagged winds near the center.
The upper-level environment has improvated considerably with streamline analysis indicating a developing anticyclone over the LLCC and enhanced poleward outflow caused by a shift in the upper-level trough/low northwest of the system.
Animated water vapor imagery reflects this improvement with expanding poleward outflow evident over the southern semi-circle.
SST is also favorable for further development.
Therefore, the potential for the development of a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is good.