Tropical Storm Kenneth forms in the Eastern Pacific, expected to strengthen

November 21st, 2011 - 4:22 pm ICT by BNO News  

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Tropical Storm Kenneth formed far off the Pacific coast of Mexico on Sunday afternoon, forecasters said, and the system is expected to become a rare late season hurricane later on Monday.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) Have been following the weather system since Wednesday morning when it emerged as a broad area of disturbed weather several hundred miles (kilometers) south of the coast of Guatemala. It slowly became better organized as it moved westward.

As of 1 a.m. PST (0900 GMT) on Monday, the center of Kenneth was located about 740 miles (1,190 kilometers) south of the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico. It is moving toward the west at a speed near 14 miles (22 kilometers) per hour, and the system is expected to stay far away from any land.

Maximum sustained winds of Kenneth are near 65 miles (100 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts. “Kenneth has been rapidly intensifying for the past 12 hours and this trend could continue for another 12-18 hours given the low vertical shear conditions expected,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart.

“However, a well pronounced dry slot has developed in the eastern semicircle and has wrapped into the inner core, and this dry air could briefly interrupt the strengthening process,” Stewart added. “Regardless of the effects of dry air, Kenneth is expected to become a hurricane within the next 12-24 hours, and steady intensification is forecast for the next 36-48 hours while the cyclone remains over warm water and in a low shear and moist surrounding environment.”

NHC models show Kenneth is likely to become a hurricane on late Monday morning or early Monday afternoon, and the system may briefly reach category two strength before weakening begins on Wednesday. This weakening will likely reduce Kenneth to a tropical storm by Thursday.

Kenneth is the eleventh named storm of the 2011 Eastern Pacific hurricane season, following Tropical Depression Twelve-E which formed south of the Gulf of Tehuantepec on October 12 and left more than 80 people killed in South America.

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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