The second tropical storm to form during the east Pacific hurricane season is small in size but is certainly taking advantage of its surroundings. Top winds are now 65 mph and are forecast to increase to hurricane intensity before Barbara makes landfall later today or tonight.
There is certainly a chance for hurricane force winds to be felt in some areas of the coastline where Barbara makes landfall but the small size of the circulation should limit the extent of these winds.
The bigger issue, I believe, I will be torrential rain fall from the fairly slow-moving system. The NHC is indicating as much as a foot of rain in some areas of southern Mexico. Considering the topography of the region, it is possible that mudslides and flash flooding will occur thus the rain threat needs to be taken seriously.
Along the immediate coast, a rise in water levels of as much as five feet will accompany the would-be hurricane as it moves ashore. This surge will be limited to a rather small area but it is something that needs to be prepared for; along with large waves pounding the beach front.
After landfall – what about the Gulf?
Once inland, Barbara will weaken quickly but its circulation may remain intact enough to cross the narrow strip of land in southern Mexico to emerge in to the Bay of Campeche. Water temps in this region are just warm enough to support a tropical cyclone so we’ll have to watch closely to see if Barbara makes that rare crossing from one basin to another. If it does, it would not be called Barbara anymore – but rather TD One if it’s a depression or TS Andrea if it’s a tropical storm. That’s how it works if a tropical cyclone crosses from one basin in to another, it takes the next name on that basin’s list.
Some computer models do suggest that Barbara will survive once in the Gulf. However, dry air and strong upper level winds may preclude any significant re-development. Right now, the threat to Mexico needs to be addressed – we can wait and see what happens when and if Barbara makes it across land.
I’ll post another update on the situation this evening.