Tag Archives: Hurricane Otis

Tropical Storm Norma Drifts Near Baja California, Otis Rapidly Intensifies to Cat. 2 Hurricane

Tropical Storm Norma drifted near Baja California on Sunday, while Hurricane Otis rapidly strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  At 8:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Storm Norma was located at latitude 21.3°N and longitude 111.2°W which put it about 140 miles (220 km) south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Norma was moving toward the northwest at 6 m.p.h. (9 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1001 mb.

A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Los Barriles to Todos Santos, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Norma retains some of the structural features that it had when it was a hurricane.  The remnants of a large circular eye form the center of circulation.  A broken ring of strong thunderstorms surrounds the remnants of the eye and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring.  Bands of showers and weaker thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Tropical Storm Norma.  Some of the outer rainbands of Norma are already dropping heavy rain over parts of the southern end of Baja California.

Tropical Storm Norma will move through an environment that will be only marginally favorable for intensification during the next day or so.  Norma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  An upper level trough west of North America is producing southwesterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds are causing moderate vertical wind shear.  The circulation of Norma may also be drawing some cooler more stable air into the western part of the tropical storm.  Tropical Storm Norma could intensify somewhat during the next 24 hours, but it will eventually move over cooler water and weaken.

A ridge in the middle troposphere located east of Norma is steering the tropical storm toward the northwest and that general motion is expected to continue for another day or so.  When Norma weakens, it will be steered by the winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere.  Those winds will push Tropical Storm Norma more toward the west during the middle of the weak.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Storm Norma is forecast to remain west of Baja California.

Hurricane Otis intensified very rapidly on Sunday from a weak tropical storm to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Hurricane Otis was located at latitude 17.0°N and longitude 127.3°W which put it about 1200 miles (1930 km) west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.  Otis was moving toward the north at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 125 m.p.h. (200 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 973 mb.

Hurricane Otis has a very small circulation, which allowed to strengthen very rapidly when the environment became more favorable.  A small eye formed at the center of Hurricane Otis and a tight ring of very strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye.  Those storms began generating upper level divergence which pumped mass away from the center of circulation.  The pressure decreased quickly and the wind speed increased very rapidly.  Hurricane Otis still has a small circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force only extend out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

Hurricane Otis may be near its peak intensity.  Otis is still moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C, but it will soon move over cooler water.  Hurricane Otis will move nearer to the upper level trough west of North America and the hurricane will encounter stronger vertical wind shear.  Because Otis is a small hurricane, it could weaken almost as fast as it intensified.

A small midlevel ridge east of Otis is steering the hurricane toward the north.  Much like Tropical Storm Norma, Otis will be steered by winds lower in the atmosphere when it weakens.  Those winds are forecast to steer Otis more toward the west-southwest later this week.