On November 14, 2023, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image of Tropical Cyclone Mal as it swept southward past Fiji, heading to open waters of the South Pacific Ocean. Near that time, the storm carried maximum sustained winds near 85 mph (137 km/h) which would be the equivalent of Category 1 on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Tropical Cyclone Mal formed from a low-pressure system north of the Solomon Islands on November 10, strengthening into a cyclone on November 13. Early forecasts expected it to move over Viti Levu, the large, round island seen closest to the eye in this image. Fortunately, Mal moved westward and avoided a direct hit on any of the Fijian islands, although the storm brought strong winds and heavy rain for most of two days.
Early reports suggest the Fiji suffered minor damage, although one landslide has been reported. As of November 15, more than 34,000 people in the western division were still in evacuation centers in the western division, 1,489 in the central division, and 1,011 in north. No casualties have been reported, and schools and other businesses that had been closed as the storm passed are expected to reopen by November 16.
At 2100 UTC (4:00 p.m. EDT) on November 15, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) advised that Tropical Cyclone Mal was carrying maximum sustained winds of 63.3 mph (102 km/h), with higher gusts. It was located about 398 miles (480 km) south of Suva, Fiji and was tracking south-southeastward. They stated that the storm was a “deteriorating system that continues to be severely sheared with the convection displaced eastward”. Mal is facing increasingly unfavorable conditions and is expected to continue to weaken, becoming extratropical over open ocean on November 16.
Date Acquired: 11/15/2023
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC