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.
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.
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.