Category four hurricane Hilary could threaten Baja CaliforniaSeptember 24th, 2011 - 12:04 am ICT by BNO News
MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Major Hurricane Hilary continued to move away from the Pacific coast of Mexico on Friday morning, but forecasts indicate the Baja California peninsula could be at risk of being hit.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) have been following the weather system since Sunday afternoon when it emerged as a broad low pressure system several hundred miles (kilometers) south of the Gulf of Tehuantepec. It was classified as a tropical storm on Wednesday and strengthened into a hurricane on Thursday morning.
As of 8 a.m. PDT (1500 GMT), the center of Hilary was located about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south of Lazaro Cardenas, a port city in the southern part of the Mexican state of Michoacan. It is moving towards the west at a speed near 9 miles (15 kilometers) per hour.
Hilary’s maximum sustained winds are near 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, making it a category four hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity. Some strengthening is possible during the next few days.
“Hilary is maintaining itself as an impressive major hurricane with very cold and symmetric cloud tops surrounding a small warm eye,” said NHC hurricane specialist Stacy R. Stewart. “The size of the cyclone continues to be quite small as indicated by a lack of tropical-storm-force winds on the east side. Also, no tropical-storm-force winds have been reported along the coast of Mexico this morning.”
The NHC said hurricane-force winds extend only 25 miles (35 kilometers) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 85 miles (140 kilometers). Except for heavy rains and swells generated by the hurricane, no land was being affected directly on Friday.
Stewart said Hilary is expected to remain a major hurricane through the weekend as it remains far enough from land. “Hilary should remain over very warm waters, in moist air, and within low vertical wind shear for the next two to three days,” he said. “So it is quite likely that Hilary will continue as a major hurricane during that time. Intensity variations that occur may be dominated by internal dynamics, such as eyewall replacement cycles, which we have very limited ability to anticipate.”
While Hilary was moving away from land on Friday, forecasts show the hurricane will likely turn toward the northwest on early Tuesday morning. This would put the storm on a direct path to the Baja California peninsula, but forecasts early next week will determine which - if any - areas are at risk.
Hilary is the eighth named storm of the 2011 Eastern Pacific hurricane season, following Tropical Depression Eight-E which formed in late August and made landfall in southwestern Mexico, causing no casualties.
According to figures released in May, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is expecting a below normal hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for 9 to 15 named storms, with five to eight becoming hurricanes and one to three expected to become a major hurricane (category 3 or higher).
An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 to 16 named storms, with eight to nine becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30, with peak activity from July through September.
- Tropical Storm Kenneth forms in the Eastern Pacific, expected to strengthen - Nov 21, 2011
- Tropical Storm Eugene forms in the Pacific, no threat to land - Jul 31, 2011
- Tropical Storm Dora forms south of Guatemala, expected to become a hurricane - Jul 19, 2011
- Tropical Storm Aletta forms far off Mexico's Pacific coast, no threat - May 15, 2012
- More than 800,000 without power as Hurricane Irene slams Puerto Rico - Aug 22, 2011
- Tropical Storm Lee forms in the Gulf of Mexico, heads for Louisiana - Sep 03, 2011
- New depression prompts tropical storm warnings in the Caribbean - Aug 21, 2012
- Tropical storm Beatriz forms off the Pacific coast of Mexico; hurricane watch issued - Jun 20, 2011
- Tropical depression forms in the western Caribbean Sea, heads for Honduras - Aug 19, 2011
- Tropical storm Bret forms near the Bahamas, watch in effect - Jul 18, 2011
- Tropical Storm Jose passes west of Bermuda - Aug 29, 2011
- Tropical Storm Katia forms in the far eastern Atlantic, set to become major hurricane - Aug 30, 2011
- Bermuda cancels tropical storm warning as Gert turns to the northeast - Aug 16, 2011
- Tropical depression forms in the far eastern Atlantic, may threaten the Caribbean - Aug 29, 2011
- Bermuda on alert as Hurricane Leslie approaches - Sep 07, 2012
Tags: baja california peninsula, cloud tops, gulf of tehuantepec, hurricane force winds, hurricane hilary, hurricane specialist, kilometers per hour, lazaro cardenas, maximum sustained winds, miles kilometers, moist air, national hurricane center, nhc hurricane, simpson scale, storm force winds, tropical storm force, tropical storm force winds, vertical wind shear, warm waters, weather system