Powerful Tropical Cyclone "Fantala" strengthened to 240 km/h (149.6 mph) on April 17, greater than what was previously forecast. The storm is about to make a U-turn toward the southeast and slowly weaken. Strong wind warnings are in effect for Rodrigues, Mauritius, St Brandon and Agalega.
According to the JTWC, Fantala had maximum sustained winds of 240 km/h (149.6 mph) with wind gusts to 296 km/h (184.1 mph) at 09:00 UTC on April 17. This made Fantala equivalent to a strong Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The system was located about 1 168 km (726 miles) north-northwest of Port Louis, Mauritius and was moving west-northwest at 18.5 km/h (11.5 mph).
Animated multispectral satellite imagery depicts a deepening central core structure surrounding a sharp 20 km (2.6 miles) eye feature.
Fantala is moving under the influence of a deep-layer sub-tropical ridge over Madagascar. This ridge is expected to weaken over the next 24 hours, allowing a building near-equatorial ridge to the north to assume steering. This will cause a sharp poleward turn to a southeastward trajectory.
The system will continue to weaken slowly as moderate vertical wind shear (vws) and the restricted outflow hamper further intensification.
In the extended forecast, JTWC said, an approaching mid-latitude trough will create another strong poleward outflow channel allowing an additional intensification phase prior to vws increasing.
Tropical Cyclone "Fantala" at 17:00 UTC on April 17, 2016. Credit: EUMETSAT
Tropical Cyclone "Fantala" on April 17, 2016. Image credit: NASA/NOAA/DoD Suomi NPP
Tropical Cyclone "Fantala" JTWC forecast on April 17, 2016
Tropical Cyclone "Fantala" - Sea surface temperature (Reynold) - April 17, 2016. Credit: UW-CIMSS
Featured image credit: NASA/NOAA/DoD Suomi NPP