Severe Tropical Cyclone Ian rapidly strengthens near Tonga

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ian rapidly strengthen on Thursday northwest of Tonga.  Current winds are 165 km/h with a pressure of 960 hPa… however, recent infrared satellite imagery since sunset suggests that Ian may have weakened some… or at least has stopped strengthening.  Prior to sunset, a visible eye was apparent, albeit somewhat cloud filled.  After sunset, little warming (indicative of an eye) is apparent on satellite.  After a few days of erratic drifting between Fiji and Tonga, the subtropical ridge to the southeast of Ian is retrograding northward in advance of a frontal boundary moving east across New Zealand.  The frontal will entice Ian to pick up forward speed and move southeastward across the northern islands of Tonga, spreading hurricane-force winds across several islands before weakening late this weekend southeast of Tonga.

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Iantrack Ian20130109


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