Tropical Storm Dora forms south of Guatemala, expected to become a hurricane

July 19th, 2011 - 1:22 am ICT by BNO News  

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Tropical storm Dora formed south of Guatemala on late Monday morning, forecasters said, and the storm is expected to reach hurricane strength by late Tuesday.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) have been following the weather system since Saturday morning when it emerged as a low pressure system off the coast of Costa Rica, producing scattered thunderstorms over portions of Central America. It quickly became better organized on Sunday and Monday morning.

“Satellite imagery indicates thunderstorm activity has become sufficiently organized near the center of the well-defined low pressure area located to the south of Guatemala for this system to be designated as the fourth depression of the season,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart on early Monday morning. The system was later upgraded to a tropical storm.

As of 11 a.m. PDT (1800 GMT), the center of Dora was located about 265 miles (425 kilometers) southwest of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. It is moving toward the west at a speed of 12 miles (19 kilometers) per hour.

Maximum sustained winds of Dora are near 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, according to forecasters. The storm is expected to reach hurricane strength by late Tuesday and could become a major category three hurricane by early Thursday morning.

Dora does not pose an immediate threat to land, but the system could come close to the Pacific coast of Mexico late this week. Forecasters in the next few days will determine whether the system poses a threat to land.

Dora is the fourth named storm of the 2011 Eastern Pacific hurricane season, following Hurricane Calvin which formed off the Pacific coast of Mexico earlier this month. As the system stayed far away from land, Calvin caused no damage or 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.

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