Tag Archives: Manzanillo

PATRICIA: One for the record book!

On Tuesday 20 October 2015 a couple of tropical waves off the Pacific coast of Central America, a region that has seen continued disturbed weather activity for several months now, started to get better organized showing signs of potential further development.  I was aware of these systems while I was following Hurricane OLAF in the Central Pacific to the southeast of Hawaii.

Infrared satellite image [NASA] of Hurricane PATRICIA in the early morning hours of this Friday 23 October 2015 as it aimed for the Pacific coastal region of central Mexico
Infrared satellite image [NASA] of Hurricane PATRICIA in the early morning hours of this Friday 23 October 2015 as it aimed for the Pacific coastal region of central Mexico
On Wednesday the 21st one of these tropical waves  got organized, became a tropical depression and continued strengthening into  tropical storm PATRICIA, the sixteenth-named tropical cyclone of the 2015 East Pacific hurricane season, still showing signs of potential further development late that same day. Initial model runs predicted a track paralleling the Pacific coast of Mexico slowly recurving toward the north and then northeast over an area of rather warm sea surface waters, perhaps reaching mid category 2 strength before making landfall and decaying.

Map showing a region of rather warm sea surface temperatures where hurricane PATRICIA continues to move toward the coast of Mexico
Map showing a region of rather warm sea surface temperatures where hurricane PATRICIA continues to move toward the coast of Mexico

During the night to early morning hours from Wednesday into Thursday the 22nd PATRICIA reached hurricane strength and turned further northeast toward the coast of central Mexico from Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta. Intensity predictions continued to be for a mid category 2 tropical cyclone.

Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of 23 October showing hurricane OLAF in the central pacific and monstrous category 5 hurricane PATRICIA approaching landfall in Mexico
Color-enhanced infrared satellite image (NOAA) of 23 October showing hurricane OLAF in the central pacific and monstrous category 5 hurricane PATRICIA approaching landfall in Mexico

Something happened during the night hours from Thursday into Friday the 23rd that propelled PATRICIA through a process of rapid, and unprecedented, intensification to a rather strong, even monstrous, category 5 hurricane.

Projected track of hurricane PATRICIA (courtesy of the U.S. Navy research Laboratory) showing potential landfall in the region from Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta
Projected track of hurricane PATRICIA (courtesy of the U.S. Navy research Laboratory) showing potential landfall in the region from Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta

As of mid-morning this Friday 23 October PATRICIA is generating sustained maximum winds of 325 kph (~ 202 mph) gusting to 386 kph and still strengthening. Analysis of current data indicates the hurricane may reach winds of 335-340 kph gusting to near 400 kph before landfall on the central Pacific coast of Mexico, some time this afternoon.

All indications are that PATRICIA may still be a category 5 storm when it makes landfall, only the second category 5 hurricane to do so since records have been kept. Storm surge, extremely high waves, extreme rainfall in addition to very strong winds will batter the coastal region generating flash flooding and mudslides.

PATRICIA is so large of a system, at more than 1000 kilometers in diameter, that is already interacting with atmospheric systems over Texas and the southern plains of the U.S.A. where copious amounts f rain and potential flooding are expected today.

Full Earth disk satellite image [NASA] of 23 October 2015 showing Hurricane PATRICIA near the pacific coast of Mexico
Full Earth disk satellite image [NASA] of 23 October 2015 showing Hurricane PATRICIA near the pacific coast of Mexico
PATRICIA appears to be one for the record book!

Carlos reaches hurricane strength

Satellite image of 13 June 2015 showing hurricane CARLOS under visible light [NASA]
Satellite image of 13 June 2015 showing hurricane CARLOS under visible light [NASA]

Tropical cyclone CARLOS, the 3rd named storm of the 2015 East Pacific hurricane season reached hurricane strength earlier today off the coast of Mexico. The hurricane is generating sustained 120 kph winds, with  higher gusts, while its track has shifted slightly to the east.

Projected track of hurricane CARLOS as of 13 June [Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory]
Projected track of hurricane CARLOS as of 13 June [Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory]

The new projected track of hurricane Carlos will take it closer to the coastline of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta than previously anticipated and toward the Gulf of California earlier this coming week. Because of its slow forward motion this storm has the potential for causing significant damage by way of coastal flooding, including instances of flash floods, because of the copious rain it is generating over the region.

Infrared GOES EAST satellite image [NOAA] of 13 June showing  the low pressure system generating copious rain and stormy weather over a vast region from southern Mexico and the northwestern Caribbean to Central America and Panama
Infrared GOES EAST satellite image [NOAA] of 13 June showing the low pressure system generating copious rain and stormy weather over a vast region from southern Mexico and the northwestern Caribbean to Central America and Panama

Hurricane Carlos is paralleled by a low pressure system of the east coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, that is generating stormy weather and vast amounts of rain over the Yucatan Peninsula, southern Mexico, and most of Central America and the central and northwestern Caribbean basin. This system is traversing the Yucatan peninsula and it is expected to emerge over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico where in may intensify under a favorable ocean-atmosphere environment.

While Mexico experiences impacts of both coastlines, and Central America continues to suffer extreme rain events and instances of flooding that have already caused significant damage to buildings and infrastructure as well as death by drowning,  there is plenty of fuel for potential further adverse weather activity in coming days, in the form of storm cells pushing westward along ‘hurricane alley’, pushed by tropical waves emerging from Equatorial Africa over the eastern Atlantic.

All interests in the Caribbean basin, the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Central America  and Mexico must monitor these systems closely, remaining always alert and prepared, and engaged in the practice of mitigation!