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By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:43 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 night, and then strike the coast of mainland Mexico north of Mazatlan Wednesday morning. Wind shear has incresed to 25 knots, up from 10 knots this morning, and Paul's appearance on satellite loops is much less impressive tonight. The eye is gone, the cloud pattern distorted, and the Air Force Hurricane Hunters found winds at 3:22pm EDT this afternoon of only Category 1 strength.
Paul is not yet visible on Los Cabos radar, but will be Tuesday morning. Paul will pass within 40 miles of Mexico's Socorro Island tonight. 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 north, and is on track to recurve to the northeast, passing just south of or over the tip of the Baja Peninsula on Tuesday afternoon. Paul will be in a region of high wind shear of 25 knots or more that should significantly weaken the storm, since it is a relatively small hurricane that is vulnerable to shear. Given Paul's current organization, the storm is likely to be a Category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm 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.
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