Tropical Cyclone "Hola" formed March 6, 2018 near Vanuatu as the third named storm of the 2017/18 South Pacific tropical cyclone season. This system will cross Vanuatu over the next 12 - 24 hours and then rapidly intensify as it heads toward the Loyalty Islands. Current models take Hola very near Loyalty Islands as Category 3 or 4 hurricane equivalent.
At 12:00 UTC on March 6, the center of Tropical Cyclone "Hola" was located 209 km (130 miles) NNE of Port Vila, Vanuatu. The system had 10-minute sustained winds at 65 km/h (40 mph) with gusts up to 83 km/h (52 mph) and was moving SW at 15 km/h (9.2 mph). Its minimum barometric pressure was 994 hPa.
Tropical Cyclone "Hola" forecast track by RSMC Nadi at 20:01 UTC, March 6, 2018
By 18:00 UTC, Hola was 20 km (12.4 miles) E of Poinkros and 23 km (15 miles) E of Fonwor, Vanuatu and at 21:00 UTC almost directly over Ambrym volcano in Vanuatu's Malampa Province.
Tropical Cyclone "Hola" at 20:40 UTC on March 6, 2018. Credit: JMA, Himawari-8
Hola's center is expected to pass very near or over the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia on February 9 with maximum sustained winds between 203 and 231 km/h (126 - 143 mph) and gusts to 278 km/h (172 mph).
We'll keep tracking this storm in the days ahead and as it tracks toward North Island, New Zealand. Right now, all eyes are on the Loyalty Islands.
Two ECMWF models below show potential wind and rain.
Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Hola" at 20:40 UTC on March 6, 2018. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8