It is Hurricane PAULA now!

At 0545 EST Hurricane Paula was over the Bay of Honduras moving northwestward with sustained 75 mph (120 kph) winds at 10 mph (16 kph). On this track and speed the hurricane should gradually approach Quintana Roo coming to within 100-150 kilometers (60 - 90 miles) from Chetumal Bay this afternoon, and very near or over the Cancun - Cozumel - Playa del Carmen region by Wednesday 13 October 2010 at mid-day/ early afternoon.

  Moving over a favorable environment tropical storm PAULA strengthened during the night and toady 12 October, 2010 it is a category 1 Hurricane with the potential for strengthening further over the next 12-24 hours. The hurricane is moving toward the northwest at 10 mph, aiming for the coastal regions of Belize and Quintana Roo in Mexico, while it is currently  affecting Honduras and Guatemala, part of Belize and southern Quintana Roo.

GOES satellite view (infrared filter) of Hurricane Paula on 12 October 2010 at 0615 EST as it moved off the northern coast of Honduras at 10 mph (16 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (93 kph) toeard the northwest and the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico.

 As the hurricane interacts with high pressure systems to the northwest and northeast of its current location its future course is difficult to predict, although the consensus of the models have Paula continue on its course toward the Yucatan Peninsula to then stall and meander in the western Caribbean, and even turning toward the northeast, then the east and possibly backtrack toward the south between Cuba and the Yucatan. Depending on what the domes of high pressure do, hurricane Paula may just deambulate over the western Caribbean until it eventually dissipates into an area of rain showers and thunderstorms, or it might be affected by tropical waves currently on Hurricane Alley and approaching the Caribbean and follow a totally different course 4 -5 days from now. Could it make into the Gulf, the Bahamas, or the Florida straits? We’ll just have to wait and see how the various atmospheric factors evolve and affect hurricane Paula.

Predicted track for Hurricane Paula as of 0200 EST on 12 October 2010, per forecast by the Navy Research Laboratory based on NOAA NHC data.


Five-day track for Hurricane Paula as of 12 October 2010 at 0400 EST issued by the National Hurricane Center.


In the mean time, interests in the coastal regions of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Quintana Roo, Cuba and Grand Cayman need to activate their respective emergency plans and prepare for impacts that may include 90-100 mph winds, storm surge and plenty of rain and thunderstorms over the next 24 – 48 hours. Given the uncertainties in forecasting this particular tropical cyclone, the prudent course of action would be to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It is important to follow the advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center and also to monitor the progress of tropical waves in Hurricane Alley as they approach and/or enter the eastern Caribbean, as they may just get there in time to affect the future behavior of Paula.

A composite of satellite imagery showing water vapor in the atmosphere in the late afternoon of 11 October 2010. Besides tropical cyclone Paula toward the left of the picture, several tropical waves and storm cells are visible over Hurricane alley and equatorial Africa as they moe west toward the Caribbean and the Antilles.

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