Tropical Storm 17P forms in South Pacific
On February 21, the seventeenth tropical depression formed in the South Pacific Ocean. Today, February 22, the storm has strengthened into Tropical Storm 17P (TS 17P) with maximum sustained winds near 39 mph, and it was about 740 miles east-northeast of Pago Pago.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-11 captured a visible image of the storm at 1800 UTC (1 p.m. ET) February 22. The storm does not appear well organized. TD 17P was located near 9.6 South latitude and 159.0 East longitude, and was moving south-southwest near 4 mph (3 knots). TS 17P was creating 15 foot-high waves in open waters.
Although TS 17P is expected to continue tracking in open waters its winds and surf may impact some land areas. So, regional warnings have been posted for the Northern Cook Islands. Currently, a gale wind warning is in effect for Penrhyn and an alert is in effect for Rakahanga, Manihiki and nearby islands.
TS 17P is in an area of wind shear, and that's limiting any intensification of the storm. It is expected to strengthen a little more over the next couple of days however, before it dissipates later this week.