NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Hola drenching Vanuatu, New Caledonia

Tropical Cyclone Hola was dropping heavy rainfall on Vanuatu and New Caledonia when the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed overhead.

There are regional warnings for Vanuatu and New Caledonia. In Vanuatu a gale warning is in force for Tafea and Shefa provinces. In New Caledonia, the territory is on pre-alert, with the exception of Ouvéa, Maré and Lifou, which are on tropical cyclone alert #2.

The GPM core observatory satellite had a fairly good look at powerful Tropical Cyclone Hola on March 8, 2018 at 3:12 a.m. EST (0812 UTC). Hola was located northeast of New Caledonia with maximum sustained winds of about 95 knots (~ 105 mph). The rainfall rate was derived from GPM's Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instruments. GPM's GMI provided the best coverage of the tropical cyclone. GMI data indicated that storms within Hola were dropping rain at a rate of greater than 49 mm (1.9 inches) per hour in the southeast quadrant of the tropical cyclone. GPM's DPR swath scanned an area west of the heaviest concentration of rainfall around the center of tropical cyclone Hola. GPM's radar (DPR Ku band) found that some convective storms in feeder bands north of the tropical cyclone's eye were producing rain at a rate of over 127 mm (5 inches) per hour.

GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA.

On March 9 at 10 a.m. EST (1500 UTC) Tropical Cyclone Hola was centered near 19.6 degrees south latitude and 167.4 degrees east longitude, about 120 nautical miles northwest of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Hola was moving to the southeast at 10 knots (11.5 mph/18.5 kph). Maximum sustained winds dropped to 75 knots (86.3 mph/139 kph) making it a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) expects the subtropical ridge to cause Tropical Cyclone Hola to recurve toward the southeast avoiding a direct impact with New Caledonia.

JWTC noted that as Hola "continues to track southeastward it will encounter unfavorable vertical wind shear (up to 90 knots) and cooler sea surface temperatures which will lead to a decrease in intensity." By March 11, Hola will begin extratropical transition while moving toward northeastern New Zealand.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center