Bud the strongest Eastern Pacific hurricane so early in the year; 94L may develop

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:14 PM GMT on May 25, 2012

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Category 2 Hurricane Bud is weakening, but still presents a formidable rainfall threat as it continues north-northeast towards an expected landfall between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico late Friday night. Thursday night at 11 pm EDT, Bud peaked at Category 3 status, with 115 mph winds, becoming the earliest Category 3 hurricane on record in the Eastern Pacific. Recent Satellite loops show that Bud has weakened, though. The eye has disappeared, and the cloud pattern has shrunk and appears squashed, due to an increase in dry air, wind shear, and cooler sea surface temperatures affecting the storm. These hostile conditions should continue to weaken Bud to a Category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm by the time of landfall. Bud is projected to cross the coast in a rugged, relatively unpopulated area, so wind and storm surge damage will probably be light to moderate. Heavy rain will cover a much wider area, and will be the main threat from Bud. The coast where Bud is headed towards is very mountainous, and numerous flash floods and dangerous mudslides will affect the region, probably including the cities of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. I don't think Puerto Vallarta will see much in the way of wind or storm surge damage, since it is in a well-protected location and will probably be on the weak (left-front) side of the hurricane. Manzanillo is at higher risk, since it will probably be on the stronger right-front side of the hurricane.


Figure 1. True-color satellite image of Hurricane Bud taken at 12:25 pm EDT May 24, 2012. At the time, Bud was a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

A record May for the Eastern Pacific hurricane season
Bud is the strongest Eastern Pacific hurricane on record for so early in the year, and is tied with Hurricane Alma of 2002 (115 mph winds) as the second strongest May hurricane on record in the Eastern Pacific. Only Hurricane Adolph of 2001 (145 mph winds) was stronger. Also, Bud's appearance on May 21 marked the earliest date since record keeping began in 1949 for formation of the season's second named storm. The previous record was set in 1984, when the second named storm formed on May 29. Hurricanes are uncommon in the Eastern Pacific in May; there have been just twelve since record keeping began in 1949--an average of one May hurricane every five years. If Bud ends up making landfall in Mexico as a hurricane, it would be only the second Eastern Pacific May hurricane on record to hit Mexico. The other was Hurricane Agatha of May 24, 1971, which hit the same stretch of coast that Bud is threatening. Agatha made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane about 45 mi (75 km) from Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Ocean temperatures this year in the region where Aletta and Bud formed are only slightly above average, so the large-scale atmospheric patterns are probably more to blame for this year's exceptionally early start to hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Invest 94L off the Georgia coast could develop this weekend
An area of disturbed weather (Invest 94L) a few hundred miles east of the Georgia coast is headed northeast at about 15 mph. The disturbance has not become more organized over the past day, due to very high wind shear of 40 - 55 knots. However, the latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear will drop to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, on Saturday and Sunday. Most of our reliable models predict that 94L could organize into a subtropical or tropical depression or storm on Saturday or Sunday off the coast of Georgia/South Carolina. NHC is giving 94L a 70% chance of developing into a tropical or subtropical depression by Sunday morning. A ridge of high pressure is expected to build in over the weekend off the East Coast, which will force 94L to the west back towards the coast, and heavy rains from 94L are likely to begin affecting coastal South Carolina, Georgia, and Northern Florida on Saturday and Sunday. There is a lot of dry, continental air on the west side of 94L, so the rainfall amounts from the storm will be limited unless until the center makes landfall. If these rains do materialize, they would be welcome, considering the moderate to severe drought conditions in the area.

I'll have an update Saturday.

Jeff Masters

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Based on the visible, it does appear that a low level coc is forming at approximately 31.0n 75.1w.
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Sorry Bud maybe next time.

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Quoting HurricaneProneArea:


You're the one with that cane group on FB.


No
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Doesn't appear to be moving much at all however.


12Z CMC believes it's about to start turning WSW and head for the NE FL coastline in 48 hours. So far 2 of the 12Z models have shifted back south so lets see if the Euro stays on the NE FL landfall idea.
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Quoting reedzone:


Not close, but gettin there, needs to fire deep convection. Reminds me of Barry in 2007, except on the other side of the coastline this year.
Convection isn't that much of a problem in my eyes. The circulation is still relatively ill-defined in the lower-levels towards the surface and that's probably what's stopping it from being classified. Convection is actually pretty impressive for the rather dry mid-to upper-level environment and unfavorable upper-level winds.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Doesn't appear to be moving much at all however.



Stationary...
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GFS 12z @ 54 hrs. showing landfall around St. Augustine/Palm Coast area. This model has been consistent with a track towards this area.

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Quoting HurricaneProneArea:


Hi Keeper! I don't see that panning out. Patterns like that are absolutely unprecedented for early June standards. Much let alone the fact that the GFS is notorious for exaggerating troughs like that, isn't that so, Hydrus?

Also, we DO NOT want a pattern like that to take shape during hurricane season, so, GO AWAY.

Good to see you on for yet another year, Brickell.

May I add that you write surprisingly well for a high school student.
The NAO is going to be notably negative. It may have what it takes to shift things a bit....
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Quoting Tazmanian:
this sure dos not look like a hurrican any more it dos not even look like a TS in fac this looks like a weak TS or TD right now if even that


its gone taz the bud is gone
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
We are very close to getting a renumber now. This thing is looking better every hour.



Just came back from Panera Bread, What did I miss?

Whoa , 94l now has a well defined, closed circulation!!!!!
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Quoting weatherh98:


The window of opportunity should start soon


RGB loop showing the any high cloudiness (what little there is, anyways) to the west of the system is barely moving, or slightly (less than 20mph to the east), while the high cloudiness to the east of the system is racing to the NE... indeed, lower shear environment is approaching.
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this sure dos not look like a hurrican any more it dos not even look like a TS in fac this looks like a weak TS or TD right now if even that


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Good afternoon.

Blog update on 94L:

Tropical Tidbit for Friday, May 25th, with Video
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Quoting ncstorm:
Hey Everyone!

So the Dynamics models have shifted north for the 12Z and took florida out of the equation..lets see what the 18Z will do?



Not surprising at all, these systems off the the SE US Coast, north of the Bahamas, rarely end up making landfall along the Florida Coast (I have asserted this on the blog before, recently). There are generally just too many factors which ultimately steer tropical cyclones away. When I woke up today and saw how far north and east 94L had already made it overnight, I figured models would shift as usual. I hope 94L brings much needed rain to areas in need, otherwise, it can get out of the way and allow our rainy season to commence unhindered.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
We are very close to getting a renumber now. This thing is looking better every hour.



Not close, but gettin there, needs to fire deep convection. Reminds me of Barry in 2007, except on the other side of the coastline this year.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Doesn't appear to be moving much at all however.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
Quoting hydrus:
What ever I did to mess things up, I apologize. I was trying to show some good footage..I pulled it.


You are a valuable member of this blog, I hope you will stay many more years to come.

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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Shear is on the decline down to 5-10 knots on the coast of SC & NC.



The window of opportunity should start soon
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
East coast event.?
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We are very close to getting a renumber now. This thing is looking better every hour.

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Quoting weatherh98:


He did


Levi might get a Nobel Prize someday if he sticks with Meteorology..... :)
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Quoting weatherh98:


I have relatives in NC, if this forms, might tell em to get ready


Watching the news this morning and the weather guys really downplayed the storm saying we might see a shower here and there..I guess they dont want to hurt the financial side of memorial weekend and state we may be looking at some bad weather this weekend..
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
learn things when ya watch i did that because he post tazs


I gotta mail you
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
On the RGB, nice clear doughnut hole at 31N 75W. Thinks we have a more clear pic of dominant LLC.
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Decent convergence right over the low center for a change. Looks like another 12hrs and shear will ease up substantially.

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
Shear is on the decline down to 5-10 knots on the coast of SC & NC.

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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Actually, in terms of repositioning, Levi called it yesterday morning when he stated that he expected the system to kick out the existing low and probably develop a new one further to the NE I believe.


He did
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting islander101010:
landfall? cape canaveral as a large tropical storm?


You wish. More likely a rather rare GA landfall as perhaps a 50 mph TS.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Wait wait wait... I always see that name on Facebook, with Levi... Wow
learn things when ya watch i did that because he post tazs
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Quoting reedzone:


You just said my city.. Palm Coast, that's rare...
Reed, do you think it will make it to the gulf ?
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Well...I guess my hunch 2 AM this morning was good...I was putting a forecast further northeast than the models with an anticyclonic loop on May 28....



Great blog!
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Actually, in terms of repositioning, Levi called it yesterday morning when he stated that he expected the system to kick out the existing low and probably develop a new one further to the NE I believe.
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Quoting HurricaneProneArea:


You don't have to know. But I did begin back in 07. Sad that folks such as Drakoen, Weather456, Ike, and Storm no longer blog in here.
I see Drak and Ike every so often...Latest GFS..I hope this works..Link
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the tropical wave that is in the E caribbean could move to west-central caribbean start to develop into a low and could become TD3/TS Chris as the low moves N-NNE in the W caribbean
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
taz is fine Janiel Vargas


Wait wait wait... I always see that name on Facebook, with Levi... Wow
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
landfall? cape canaveral as a large tropical storm?
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4747
Quoting HurricaneProneArea:


You don't have to know. But I did begin back in 07. Sad that folks such as Drakoen, Weather456, Ike, and Storm no longer blog in here.

I don't have to know... but I think many of us would like to know.

Quoting StormTracker2K:


How have you been? I haven't seen you on in awhile. It's as dry as I have ever seen it here and that's even with 5" of rain so far this month. Lakes are nearing record low levels and Springs in N FL are drying up so hopefully this system can deliver some rain here.

I've been VERY busy lately with school and work. (sometimes schoolwork *at* work)

Its been painfully dry over here lately, but there are some hints at a pattern change in the 7-10 day frame that would put SE TX back into a more normal (and more wet) pattern.
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Quoting hydrus:
If that pans out, things are going to get really strange...like there not already.
wacky 2012 masters called it back in march
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
taz is fine Janiel Vargas



why thank you keep LOL
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
CMC is showing a strong system heading for St. Augustine/Palm Coast area.



You just said my city.. Palm Coast, that's rare...
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting Tazmanian:



reported


Same thing good call taz, I give you props
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Video looks like it came out choppy, going to have to upload it again later. Are you guys having that issue with the video?
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Looking better, looks like the low is tightening up.

Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Quoting HurricaneProneArea:
David Thomas, how are you?
taz is fine Janiel Vargas
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
yes a deep one a pattern buster
If that pans out, things are going to get really strange...like there not already.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Hey Everyone!

So the Dynamics models have shifted north for the 12Z and took florida out of the equation..lets see what the 18Z will do?




I'm not sorry. It had to be done.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Hey Everyone!

So the Dynamics models have shifted north for the 12Z and took florida out of the equation..lets see what the 18Z will do?



I have relatives in NC, if this forms, might tell em to get ready
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.