News & Blogs
Paul continues to strengthen
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:27 PM GMT on October 23, 2006
In the Atlantic, there are no threat areas to discuss, and none of the models are forecasting tropical development over the next six days. In the Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Paul is forecast to pass very close to Baja Tuesday afternoon, and then strike the coast of mainland Mexico north of Mazatlan Tuesday night. Paul is under only about 10 knots of shear this morning, and his satellite appearance has continued to improve. The eye has become better defined the past six hours, and with shear expected to remain below 20 knots until tonight, Paul has a chance to become a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds by Tuesday morning. The Air Force Hurricane Hunters will investigate Paul this afternoon.
Paul is not yet visible on Los Cabos radar, but will be tonight. Paul will pass within 60 miles of Mexico's Socorro Island today. The island is hosting a group of Mexican and German Ham radio operators there for a radio operating event with many antennas up, making contact with other Ham operators around the world. They'll have plenty to talk about tonight, as winds should pick up to 60 mph, with gusts to 100 mph! Hopefully, they won't be saying, "socorro!", the Spanish word for "help".
Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Paul, updated every 1/2 hour.
Paul has begun his expected turn to the northwest this morning, and is on track to recurve to the northeast, passing just south of or over the tip of the Baja Peninsula on Tuesday afternoon. The latest (6Z) run of the GFDL model forecasts Paul will make a direct hit on San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo with 105 mph winds. The earlier run (00Z) had Paul just missing Baja to the south. The northern portion of Paul will be in a region of high wind shear near 30 knots beginning Tuesday morning, and most of the global computer models forecast that this shear will rapidly weaken Paul, since he is a small hurricane that is potentially vulnerable to shear. The Canadian model takes the weakening to an extreme and dissipates Paul before the storm reaches Baja. However, the GFDL model, which has outperformed the other models for Paul, continues to show that Paul will remain a Category 2 hurricane until final landfall on mainland Mexico. Given Paul's current organization, I think it likely the storm will be able to maintain Category 2 status when it passes the tip of Baja. Paul should be considerably weaker at second landfall in mainland Mexico, due to wind shear plus land interaction with the mountains of Baja. The landfall in mainland Mexico will be in the same sparsely populated region that Category 3 Hurricane Lane hit last month, and significant damage and casualties are much less of a threat than for Paul's possible impact on Baja.
Comments will take a few seconds to appear.