Very dangerous Hurricane Lane heads for landfall

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:50 PM GMT on September 16, 2006

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Hurricane Lane has intensified into a small but very dangerous Category 3 hurricane, and is now bearing down on the Pacific Mexican coast north of the resort town of Mazatlan. The historical map of Eastern Pacific hurricanes shows that Lane is the strongest September hurricane ever to affect this region of the Pacific coast of Mainland Mexico. Lane passed about 45 miles to the west of Matazlan this morning at 5am PDT. Hurricane force winds extend out only 30 miles from the center of Lane, and Mazatlan airport has recorded top winds of only 25 mph so far today. Lane is responsible for one death. Lanes' heavy rains triggered a landslide yesterday that killed a 7-year-old boy in Acapulco. Lane brushed the Mexican coast between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta Friday, bringing heavy rains of 4-8 inches, then made a direct hit on a group of islands called the Islas Tres Marias as a Category 2 hurricane. There is no word yet on how the islands fared. The islands are home to a large penal colony.


Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Lane, updated every half hour.

Cabo San Lucas radar shows that Lane has developed concentric eyewalls, and is probably near peak intensity. The main threat from Lane is his winds. Lane has a small eye about ten miles in diameter, and a small region of the Mexican coast about 20 miles wide will be subject to the extreme winds of the eyewall. These 125 mph winds will cause tremendous damage. Hopefully, Lane will miss the populated towns of El Dorado and La Cruz and come ashore on a relatively sparsely populated section of coast. The other major threat is rainfall. Ten inches of rain will be common in the mountainous region of Mexico Lane is expected to cross, triggering flash floods. Storm surge flooding should be less of a problem, since the ocean waters are deep offshore, which will allow only a six-foot storm surge to build.

Lane is the sixth major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific this year. It is often the case that a quiet year in the Atlantic is offset by an active year in the Eastern Pacific, and vice versa. That has certainly been the case the past two years. The Atlantic has seen only one major hurricane this year. Last year the Atlantic had seven major hurricanes, and the Eastern Pacific just one. The difference in activity between the two ocean basins is not fully understood, but has been commonly linked to the El Nino phenomena.

The mountains of central Mexico should dissipate Lane within three days, and moisture from the storm is no longer expected to reach the U.S.

Helene becomes a hurricane
Helene has intensified into a hurricane this morning, and now has a eye, well-formed low-level spiral bands, and some solid and improving upper-level outflow. Helene is over warm 27-28C waters, shear is a low 5-10 knots, and the storm should intensify into a Category 2 hurricane by Monday.

Helene may be a threat to Bermuda and/or the Maritime provinces of Canada, but the odds of a strike on the U.S. are less than 10%. History shows that the large majority of hurricanes that traverse this part of the Atlantic end up recurving. One very notable exception is the famed New England Hurricane of 1938, which followed a very similar path to Helene's current track. Two strong troughs of low pressure are expected to push off the East Coast over the next week. If the first trough does not pull Helene northwards far enough to recurve her out to sea, the second one should almost certainly finish the job--before Helene can make it all the way to the U.S. It is too early to tell what the risk might be to Bermuda; the exact strength of the first trough 4-5 days from now is uncertain, and will determine how far west Helene is able to penetrate. The latest run of the GFS model puts Helene very near Bermuda on Sunday September 24.

Gordon on the decline
Hurricane Gordon is barely a hurricane, thanks to some strong shear and dry air. Margie Kieper did a nice job in her View from the Surface blog documenting Gordon's demise. Gordon is headed northward out to sea, and is not a threat to land.

The rest of the tropical Atlantic
A strong tropical wave with plenty of spin but only a little thunderstorm activity is just off the coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands, and is headed northwest out to sea. This system may show some slow development over the next few days.

Remainder of hurricane season outlook
I posted my outlook for the remainder of hurricane season yesterday, in case you missed it.

I'll have an update Sunday morning.
Jeff Masters

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2130. Nightingale
3:57 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Hello all. I really enjoy all of the comments
and opinions on this blog. I've been reading for
months now, and have only posted once or twice.
I live in Texas in the hill country, and we are waiting for rain from Lane to arrive and give us some drought relief.
I've endured a few hurricane's myself, growing up in the Rio Grande Valley. Beulah's eye passed directly over us in Harlingen, and we also endured Allen and Gilbert. Hurricanes have always been a fascination for me, and I enjoy
all of your comments and posted links. Thanks,
ya'll!
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
2129. ajpgraves1990
2:19 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
IADCW,This is a blog to discuss weather. No one may be right or wrong, It's a place where fellow trackers can discuss. Nothing they say is laid in stone. It helps other people get a different prospective on what is happening. It's not planning it's discussing!
2128. IADCW
2:15 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
My thoughts on why are really simple. People predict and make plans like they know whats going to happen and the fact is this. No matter how much you believe or have confidence in how you think things will go - without fail, some things wont go that way. Best laid plans and all that !!
2127. Patrap
2:09 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..Im out for French..er Italian Toast..LOL.Will be back b-4 Noon Kickoff...Saints @ Lambeau Field..!
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2126. stormybil
2:09 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
thanks weather 456 but might be alittle south of your second post . good pics.
2125. StormJunkie
2:08 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
New Blog up
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
2124. caymanguy
2:08 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
good morning folks,

welcome back rand, try and behave now, we missed you.
2123. Patrap
2:08 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
...G morning wxhatt
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2121. wxhatt
2:07 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Hi Patrap, GulfScotsman, Randrewl, and all the other regulars. Welcome, New Bloogers too!

Good to see you are still keeping vigil on Helene. I have some things to take care of this morning, but I'll be back in a while to check out what is the latest.

Let's hope the Sea Hag stays out to Sea!!
Member Since: October 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 930
2120. waccamaw16
2:07 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
if you do the calculations of lat. and long. from since the 5pm advisory from sept.16 .and it has gone .7n and 1.9w .looks to me a little more westward than northward as far as last 12 hours.
2119. Patrap
2:06 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
.Ahhh..yes..football and Tropical blogging kinda one & the same.Every body pulling for a Scenario..amid chhering crowds of Followers..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2118. kylejourdan2006
2:05 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
456 - You're not showing the high also positioned north of Puerto Rico/Leeward Islands (one farther south that the high in the middle).

Also, winds are now 95mph with Helene, and this will be seen at 11am.
Member Since: July 18, 2006 Posts: 32 Comments: 1521
2117. Patrap
2:05 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..Weather 456 gets the award for Best performance by a Blogger in the Simple Graphics category..Thats a great look at the forcasting dilemma posed by Helene..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2115. Patrap
2:03 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..blog wise...was it busy here?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2114. Cavin Rawlins
2:02 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Seceond Case-Helene misses both the trough and weakness in the high:

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
2113. NWAtlanticCyclone
2:02 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
I know snowboy. Our only difference is the fact that I predict a 30% chance for a US landfall and you have a 40 to 45% chance. Oh well! Our differences will change within the next 24 to 36hours. Helene appears she will miss the weakness, but the CONUS trough seems likely to pick up Helene before reaching the coast. Now if the trough is not strong enough within 3 to 4 days then she could very well likely reach landfall on the E. Coast.
2111. BahaHurican
2:02 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Morning Gulf.

Helene is not following all instructions, as u can see.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22735
2110. Patrap
2:01 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
.G morn Rand,,howd yall make out last night?...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2107. Patrap
2:00 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..NHC was right on the Money slowing Helenes..forward speed in Half..after bouncing into the SAL..was moving @ 20 ..Friday..now 9..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2105. Pipsneyy
1:59 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
If Helene slows down, that would give the high time to build in and move to the west. Then the TROF would come into play. Either the trough will weaken the high, or the high will weaken the trough. Depends which ever is strong. Like a chicken game. We will see.
2103. Patrap
1:57 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..Thanx ajp..thats nice.Glad you enjoyed them..Ill post more later this week.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2102. Patrap
1:57 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..456..on time with the frontal map...nice...once again
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2101. ajpgraves1990
1:56 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Patrap, just wanted to comment on your pictures. It is really extrodinary the amount of damage Katrina caused. I am thankful you are safe after seeing those pictures.
2100. Cavin Rawlins
1:56 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
This the first case - Helene misses the weakness, but is picked up the trough....Since the trough is moving Eastward...the turn will occur more to the east.....and not so far west.....

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
2099. sporteguy03
1:55 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Why has Helene slowed down? Is a High Building to the North??
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5417
2098. Patrap
1:55 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..Helene now gaining in Lattitude every hour ..over Longitude.Passing thru 20 north..this motion is expected to continue..thru Sun Evening..and bodes better for all concernd..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2097. BahaHurican
1:53 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Went back to look at the climatology again. Only 3 storms since 1850 which passed w/in 100 miles of Helene's current position went on to strike the mainland; one of these was Isabel. An additional 4 recurved late enough to affect Bermuda. The other 25 or so stayed out to sea. I'd also bet that the weather conditions during each of the landfalling hurricanes were different from what we have now.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22735
2096. ajpgraves1990
1:52 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
I figure if all floridians put up their shutters at the start of hurricane season then it would detour all hurricances from Florida.. Haha
2095. Patrap
1:51 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
..sees helene moving NW @ 9 around 295 bearing last 3 hrs..and the Hurricane ..is still feeling the effects of the SAL ..it bump into yesterday.The storm remains slighty negatively tilted..west to east ..as the inflow battles to keep the fuel flowing into the core..Helene..continues to follow close to the NHC track ..but confidence ..in the track ..out past 72..remains ..unclear..at best..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
2093. livinwcanes
1:49 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Good morning all, can someone post the link for actual model runs? the one that has the fsu and gfdl run. Thanks
2092. PalmHarbor
1:49 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
OK...who said the "F" word..(florida)? I just threw out half the extra ice bagged and stored in the freezer since I had made a Sams Club meat run after holding off most of the season:( Now I'm doomed:p
2091. caribbeanweather
1:48 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Posted By: snowboy at 1:45 PM GMT on September 17, 2006.

LOL Caneman! btw folks, Helene is moving WNW and has been for days..

the actual movement is NW..or near 310 degrees...but yes..if we average the complete track..is WNW..or near 295 degrees
2090. snowboy
1:48 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
hey NWAC - only difference between our views is I'm seeing US landfall maybe a bit more likely than you (my guesstimate is 40% odds at present)..
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
2089. HurricaneRoman
1:48 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
the building in....the one from the east coast
Member Since: February 25, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 959
2087. HurricaneRoman
1:46 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Isn't bad if Helene moves slow??? wouldnt that give the high more time to build in?
Member Since: February 25, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 959
2086. SWLAStormFanatic
1:46 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
i12...it has slowed the trough and inhanced the moisture content in Tx and points E and N. Here in SWLA, we have an 80% of rain tomorrow as the front comes through...rain chances inhanced by moisture from Lane.
2085. NWAtlanticCyclone
1:45 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Anyways aside from the Snow talk. I think Helene will become a major and threaten the United States, but no landfall expected at this time, unless all models show signs of change. The most likely areas to be affected in the US if landfall was likely to occur would be the Carolinas to Maine, with the Mid-Atlantic coast in the Bullseye at this time, if this was to make landfall. The further south the stronger and more west she would go, and the opposite if she was to move to the north. For anymore detailed explanation, visit my blog.
2084. snowboy
1:45 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
LOL Caneman! btw folks, Helene is moving WNW and has been for days..
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2555
2083. seflagamma
1:45 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
Goodmorning everyone!
Happy Sunday to you...just needed to get an update since I left about 1am this morning. See Helene is gaining a little strength and looking pretty good on sat. But don't like the idea the models are still spead out a lot...Will be checking in and out as I can today and looking forward to the 11am update. Hope Dr Master's opens a new thread soon!
Keep up the good work my friends!
Gams
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 302 Comments: 40956
2082. BahaHurican
1:44 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
waiting for the good doctor . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22735
2081. SWLAStormFanatic
1:44 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
1990, right now conditions are hostile over the Gulf. Dry air and NE winds would make development of anything unlikely.
2080. ClearH2OFla
1:42 PM GMT on September 17, 2006
IAD like i posted earlier i still believe this will turn but later then originaly expected. Somewhere btw 25n,65w

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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.

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