Tropical Cyclone "Ula", formed on December 30, 2015, intensified on January 7 after moving away from Fiji in the Southern Pacific Ocean. The system is expected to reach its second peak by January 10 while staying east of Noumea, New Caledonia and then turn toward northern New Zealand.
At 14:00 UTC on January 7, Ula was about 444 km (276 miles) west of Suva, Fiji / 590 km (366 miles) east-northeast of Tafea province of Vanuatu. The system was crawling west-northwest at 3.7 km/h (2.3 mph) with strongest winds around its center at 97 km/h (60 mph).
Infrared view of Tropical Cyclone "Ula" west of Fiji on January 7 at 12:00 UTC. Image credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project
By 21:00 UTC on January 7, Ula's sustained winds had increased from 62 km/h (40 mph) to 101.9 km/h (63.2 mph) and maintained that strength on January 8 at 09:00 UTC.
At 09:00 UTC on January 9, Ula was located approximately 590 km (364 miles) west of Suva, Fiji. Its maximum sustained winds reached 167 km/h (103.6 mph).
Tropical Cyclone "Ula" on January 9, 2016. Image credit: NASA Aqua/MODIS
JTWC expects the system to continue intensifying up to 185 km/h (115 mph) by 09:00 UTC on January 10 and begin weakening by January 11.
Ula will curve to the south, staying east of Noumea, New Caledonia on January 10 and 11 and head toward northern New Zealand while transitioning to an extra-tropical cyclone.
Tropical Cyclone "Ula" JTWC's forecast track on January 9, 2016.
Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Ula" on January 9, 2016. Credit: NASA Aqua/MODIS