Barbara Rapidly Intensifies Into a Major Hurricane

Hurricane Barbara rapidly intensified into a major hurricane on Tuesday as it moved over the Eastern North Pacific Ocean between Baja California and Hawaii.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Barbara was located at latitude 12.5°N and longitude 122.2°W which put it about 1080 miles (1740 km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.  Barbara was moving toward the west-northwest at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 130 m.p.h. (215 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 948 mb.

Hurricane Barbara continued to intensify rapidly on Tuesday.  A circular eye became more evident on satellite imagery.  The eye was surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Storms near the core of Barbara were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane in all directions.  Multiple bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Barbara.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 25 miles (40 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 200 miles (320 km) in the southeastern quadrant of the circulation.  Tropical storm force winds extended out about 120 miles (195 km) from the center in the other three quadrants.

Hurricane Barbara was at Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Barbara was 25.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 11.0 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 36.1.

Hurricane Barbara will move through an environment very favorable for strong hurricanes for another 12 to 24 hours.  Barbara will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  It will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Barbara is likely to intensify further during the next 12 hours.  If a rainband wraps around the existing eye and eyewall, then an eyewall replacement cycle could cause Barbara to weaken.  Hurricane Barbara will approach cooler water on Wednesday and it is likely to start to weaken by that time.  Barbara will move into an area where the upper level winds are stronger later this week and it could weaken more quickly when the wind shear increases.

Hurricane Barbara will move south of a subtropical ridge over the Eastern North Pacific Ocean.  The ridge will steer Barbara in a west-northwesterly direction during the next several days.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Barbara will move in the general direction of Hawaii.