East Pacific hurricane season underway

East Pacific hurricane season typical tracks

East Pacific hurricane season typical tracks

The hurricane season has begun for the eastern north Pacific. It begins a couple of weeks ahead of the Atlantic but ends on the same date – November 30. In an average year, we can expect to see roughly 14 named storms form with about eight of them becoming hurricanes. The first name on this year’s list of names is Amanda.

Most east Pacific storms and hurricanes track generally west to west-northwest and away from land. However, some take a more northerly track and can impact Mexico and parts of Central America with devastating results. One huge issue, even with weaker systems, is heavy rain. The terrain across the region is mountainous and prone to mudslides and flash flooding. One rare occasion a tropical storm or hurricane will strike the Baja Peninsula or cross in to the Gulf of California, bringing heavy rain to part of the southwest United States. This usually happens in the latter part of the season when stronger troughs of low pressure dip south along the west coast of North America, pulling tropical systems north.

Also worth noting – when an area of interest is picked up by the National Hurricane Center in the east Pacific, it is designated with a number, 90-99, and the letter “E” for East Pacific. This is similar to the “invest” naming system for the Atlantic in which case we see the letter “L” used. So if you see me mention “91-E” or “95-E” that’s what I am talking about. It’s just a way to designate a system as being of particular interest and thus having appropriate amounts of satellite, computer model and possible recon resources allocated to track its future development potential.

Right now, there are no areas of concern brewing in the east Pacific and none of the long range computer models indicate anything substantial forming over the next few days.

With the likely El Nino taking shape, it is possible that the east Pacific will see more activity than average this season. Warmer water temps usually lead to more storms but this is not always a guarantee. If there is unusually dry air around or a lack of focused upward motion in the atmosphere, then no matter how warm the ocean is, it is difficult to have prolific development. Odds are, however, that this season will be a little busier than we’ve seen in a while for the east Pacific. Time will tell.

I will post updates here about any activity in the east Pacific and if something is threatening land, I will have video blogs posted in our app, Hurricane Impact, as well as with our friends at Hurricane Pro/HD in their app.

Check back on Monday for a very important post concerning two big events coming up at the end of the month and to start off the month of June.

M. Sudduth 2:21 PM ET May 15

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East Pacific likely to see new tropical storm develop soon

East Pacific Invest 92-E`

East Pacific Invest 92-E

The east Pacific hurricane season began on May 15 and has already had one named storm: Alvin. It was fairly short-lived and moved away from the Mexican coastline, dying out without any impact to land.

Today, the NHC is monitoring an area much close to the coast that has high potential of developing further in the coming days.

The area of interest is labeled 92-E where the “E” stands for “East Pacific”. The numbers run from 90-99 for areas of investigation such as this disturbance.

Forecast models are varied in terms of where this system may end up. A majority of them indicate that the system will move inland over southern Mexico as the week progresses. The main impact appears to be heavy rain fall as the intensity guidance is only modest with strengthening – keeping the disturbance as a tropical storm. Water temps are plenty warm in the region but the close proximity to land should be enough to keep it from becoming too strong. However, torrential rain fall is a real possibility and interests in the region should closely monitor the progress of this developing weather feature.

Eslewhere, the tropics are generally quiet with no other significant areas of development seen in satellite imagery today.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins on Saturday and we may actually have something to discuss in the western Caribbean before the weekend. Stay tuned.

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Ernesto on its way to becoming a hurricane as it heads towards Belize

TS Ernesto over the Caribbean Sea

TS Ernesto over the Caribbean Sea

Conditions around Ernesto have improved and now the storm is really starting to ramp up. The main issue was dry mid-level air and the storm’s fast forward motion. It simply could not line itself up vertically and allow for the convective process that drives its heat engine to work efficiently.

Water temps are plenty warm and it is obvious by looking at satellite imagery that the outflow is well established now. Ernesto should become a hurricane before the day is out.

The threat to the U.S. is all but gone now and so the focus will be on Central America, specifically Belize.

As it looks now, Ernesto will be intensifying as it makes landfall. This is never good news. As I have written about before, it has been our experience in dealing with hurricanes in the field that when they hit while intensifying, their effects are amplified. This is due to the convection or upward motion of the clouds that act to bring the strong winds down to the surface. We noticed this most notably during hurricane Charley in 2004 and never forgot what it was like. While Ernesto is not expected to become as strong as Charley, I hope that folks in Belize realize that this is not going to be a weak, sheared and dried out tropical storm when it hits- not anymore. Wind damage could be a real issue with Ernesto along with the other hazards of coastal storm surge and torrential rains.

Farther up the Yucatan where Cancun and Cozumel are, the impacts will be far less. Since Ernesto is not an especially large storm, its effects will be confined to the areas south of the northeast tip of the Yucatan. There may very well be some passing squalls from the outer rain bands but I do not see any reason to believe that Ernesto will post any big problems for Cancun and vicinity. In fact, that area is only under a tropical storm watch at this time. If you have plans to visit the area, do not cancel as Ernesto is only a problem farther south.

Once the soon-to-be hurricane crosses the Yucatan, it could get buried over Central America and rain itself out. This will obviously have negative impacts on the region with excessive rainfall a possibility. The official track does take the storm back out over the extreme southern Bay of Campeche with a final landfall in Mexico near the end of the week. How much time Ernesto spends over land will likely determine how strong it can get once it reaches the water again, if it does not simply die out over land.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic is quiet for now. Florence has dissipated and will likely not be able to make any appreciable comeback. We’ll see, you never know in August.

In the east Pacific, the NHC is keeping tabs on invest area 92E which is forecast to become a tropical depression and eventually a hurricane by many of the intensity models .However, the steering pattern continues to favor a general westward track away from Mexico. This is not typical of an El Nino year and lends more evidence to the fact that the atmosphere is not behaving as if we were in El Nino conditions. With a fairly strong high pressure area over the eastern Pacific it is no wonder that recent hurricanes in the east-Pac have moved westward. It is also keeping the progress of the developing El Nino at a slow pace which could have implications on the Atlantic season from here on out. I’ll discuss that in more detail in tomorrow’s blog post.

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