I'm just a 23 year old with an ardent passion for weather. I first became aware of this interest after Tropical Storm Isidore struck my area in 2002.
By: KoritheMan , 5:21 AM GMT on June 16, 2012
After operationally peaking at 90 kt (105 mph) earlier in the day, Hurricane Carlotta is on the decline as it makes landfall on the southern coast of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center had the following to say about the storm in their latest advisory:
Wind: 90 mph, with higher gusts
Location: 15.9°N 97.2°W
Movement: NW at 10 mph
Pressure: 978 mb
Category: 1 (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale)
I say operationally because I think I'll find, and perhaps so will the National Hurricane Center, that the cyclone briefly became a major hurricane. This is based on CIMSS ADT satellite intensity estimates, which entered into the major hurricane threshold around 2000 UTC, and remained that way for several hours. In fact, raw T Numbers actually reached 6.3 near 2100 UTC, corresponding to a Category 4 hurricane. While satellite animations show that this was probably excessive, I do think Carlotta was a Category 3 hurricane for a several hour period prior to landfall.
Figure 1. Latest infrared satellite image of Hurricane Carlotta. Image credit: NOAA
Latest satellite pictures show that the center is just inland between Acapulco and Puerto Angel. The cloud pattern has begun to deteriorate, and, assuming the hurricane continues along the current trajectory, rapid weakening is the most likely scenario. However, as National Hurricane Center senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila mentioned in the latest forecast discussion for the hurricane, one must always remain cognizant of the possibility that Carlotta might emerge back over the water. If so, this would significantly delay the expected dissipation, which at the moment is forecast to occur in about two days. Current analysis of satellite and water vapor supports the former evolution. The global models also agree on quickly dissipating the hurricane overland. Although the forecast keeps a circulation through five days, it is possible -- perhaps likely -- that Carlotta will not survive that long.
Carlotta is expected to turn westward in about 18-24 hours as a mid-level ridging develops north of the tropical cyclone. There are already supportive indications of such a pattern shift over the Gulf of Mexico. Thereafter, the cyclone -- then much weaker, is forecast to turn back to the east as lower to middle level cyclonic turning develops in the western Caribbean western Gulf of Mexico in association with a large area of disturbed weather forecast to manifest itself in advance of the upward MJO pulse moving into this area of the world. Satellite imagery already shows the initial stages of this disturbance. Ironically, Carlotta is actually forecast to enhance this area. A vertical decoupling of the low- to mid-level circulations appears plausible as the Sierra Madre mountain range disrupts the hurricane.
In the meantime, sustained winds to hurricane force are likely still occurring near and just inland from the coast near the eye. Tropical storm force winds extend out up to about 90 miles from the center, so Carlotta is a relatively small circulation. The hurricane force winds will likely persist for another 6-12 hours, and should slowly permeate inland. The threat for tropical storm force winds in inland areas will probably be existent for perhaps another 24 hours. Heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and mudslides in areas of mountainous terrain is also anticipated. These hazards are of course life-threatening. Storm surge should gradually subside along coastal areas as the center moves farther inland and the winds decrease.
5-day intensity forecast
INITIAL 0300Z 06/16 80 KT 90 MPH...INLAND
12 hour 1200Z 06/16 70 KT 80 MPH...INLAND
24 hour 0000Z 06/17 40 KT 45 MPH...INLAND
36 hour 1200Z 06/17 30 KT 35 MPH...INLAND
48 hour 0000Z 06/18 30 KT 35 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNANT LOW
72 hour 0000Z 06/19 25 KT 30 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNANT LOW
96 hour 0000Z 06/20 25 KT 30 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNANT LOW
120 hour 0000Z 06/21 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNANT LOW
5-day forecast track
Figure 2. My 5-day forecast track for Carlotta.
Watches and warnings
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...
A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE PACIFIC COAST OF MEXICO FROM SALINA CRUZ TO PUNTA MALDONADO
A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE PACIFIC COAST OF MEXICO WEST OF PUNTA MALDONADO TO ACAPULCO
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE PACIFIC COAST OF MEXICO WEST OF PUNTA MALDONADO TO ACAPULCO
A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE
AND PROPERTY SHOULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETED.
A HURRICANE WATCH MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE
WITHIN THE WATCH AREA.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN 36 HOURS.
FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.
Gulf of Mexico development possible
The global models continue to anticipate the possibility of tropical development in the western Gulf of Mexico in about five days. As mentioned earlier, the incipient system is already beginning to exist over the Bay of Campeche and adjacent western Caribbean, possibly associated with a tropical wave which has been moving through the Caribbean Sea for the last several days. With another tropical wave passing south of Puerto Rico, and the remnants of Carlotta, synoptic parameters appear rather favorable for some homegrown mischief, especially when one stops to consider the looming threat of the MJO, and the forecast pattern of upper-level winds. The models do appear to be converging better on the location of origin with this disturbance, with development now anticipated, both by me and by them, in the Bay of Campeche, or at least somewhere in the western Gulf of Mexico.
Based on the forecast synoptic pattern over the United States, and of course climatology, any system originating here would likely affect Mexico, Texas, and perhaps western Louisiana. Although this will probably change until a definite center forms (if it does), right now the model consensus is, in general, aimed at the northeast Mexican coast as a shallow trough over the central plains bypasses the system. However, there is enough uncertainty so that any of the aforementioned areas are at roughly equal risk. Tropical development notwithstanding, it appears that at least some heavy rainfall is on tap for this area next week.
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