Tropical storm Beatriz forms off the Pacific coast of Mexico; hurricane watch issued

June 20th, 2011 - 1:00 am ICT by BNO News  

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Tropical Storm Beatriz formed off the Pacific coast of Mexico on late Sunday morning, prompting a hurricane watch for some local coastlines, forecasters said.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) have been following the weather system since Tuesday when it emerged as an area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms off central America. It slowly became more organized in the last few days and developed into a tropical depression on Sunday morning, before strengthening into a tropical storm just three hours later.

“Satellite imagery indicates that the low off the southern coast of Mexico has acquired sufficient organization to be classified as the second tropical depression of the East Pacific season,” NHC senior hurricane specialist Michael Brennan said on early Sunday, before it strengthened into a tropical storm. “Over the past few hours, a large area of cold convective tops has developed to the southwest of the estimated center position, with the formation of curved convective bands to the northwest and northeast of the center.”

As of 11 a.m. PDT (1800 GMT), the center of Tropical Storm Beatriz was located about 205 miles (330 kilometers) southwest of Punta Maldonado, a beach town in the Mexican state of Guerrero. It is moving toward the west-northwest at a speed of 10 miles (17 kilometers) per hour.

Maximum sustained winds of Beatriz have increased to 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, according to forecasters. “The environment appears favorable for some strengthening over the next couple of days, with the cyclone situated over sea surface temperatures near 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit),” Brennan said.

Forecasters expect Beatriz to strengthen into a category one hurricane by early Tuesday morning as it moves closer towards Mexico. While the storm is not expected to make landfall directly, the then-hurricane will likely come close to the coast and could pose a threat to the region.

As a result, forecasters have issued a hurricane watch for the coast of Mexico from Zihuatanejo westward to Manzanillo. A tropical storm warning is also in effect from Tecpan de Galeana westward to Punta San Telmo.

“Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the coast within the warning area by Monday morning,” said Brennan. “Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area by Monday night or early Tuesday.”

The storm is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) along the southwestern coast of Mexico, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches (30 centimeters) over mountainous terrain. “These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” Brennan warned.

Beatriz is the second tropical storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season, following Hurricane Adrian which formed off Acapulco, Mexico in early June. It rapidly strengthened into a category four hurricane but had no direct impact on land. It dissipated on June 12.

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.

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