Blas Intensifies Into a Hurricane

Tropical Storm Blas intensified into the first Eastern North Pacific hurricane of 2016 on Monday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Blas was located at latitude 13.7°N and longitude 115.7°W which put it about 740 miles (1190 km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.  Blas was moving toward the west-northwest at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were gusts  to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 994 mb.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Blas was 10.4.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 6.1.  The Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 16.5.

The large circulation of Hurricane Blas is still organizing.  A primary rainband wrapped around the center of circulation and an eye may be forming in the center of Blas.  Additional bands of thunderstorms are spiraling around the core of Hurricane Blas.  The thunderstorms near the center of circulation are generating upper level divergence which is pumping out mass.  Despite the improved organization the wind field around Hurricane Blas is asymmetrical.  Winds to hurricane force are occurring primarily in the eastern half of the circulation.  The strongest winds extend out about 25 miles (40 km) east of the center of Hurricane Blas.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 150 miles (240 km) east of the center, but only about 80 miles (130 km) west of the center.

Hurricane Blas is in an environment that is favorable for further intensification.  It is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level ridge north of Blas is generating some northeasterly winds which are blowing over the top of the circulation.  The vertical wind shear is moderate.  It is slowing the rate of intensification, but the shear is unlikely to prevent Hurricane Blas from intensifying during the next several days.  Blas does have a chance to become a major hurricane later this week.

A ridge of high pressure is steering Hurricane Blas toward the west-northwest and that general motion is expect to continue for several more days.  Hurricane Blas is moving farther away from Mexico.