The Eastern Pacific's first named storm of 2014, Amanda
, put on an impressive performance of rapid intensification over the Memorial Day weekend, becoming the strongest May Eastern Pacific hurricane ever recorded on Sunday. Amanda peaked as a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds at 15 UTC (10 am EST) May 25, beating the previous May record holder, Hurricane Adolph of 2001,
which reached a peak intensity of 145 mph on May 29th of that year. The earliest Category 5 storm on record in the Eastern Pacific was Hurricane Ava of 1973
, which peaked at 160 mph on June 6, 1973. All three years (2014, 2001, and 1973) had ocean temperatures that were unusually warm for May along the path of these intense hurricanes: at least 0.4°C above average.Figure 1.
Hurricane Amanda at approximately 18 UTC (1 pm EDT) on May 25, 2014. Amanda had just peaked as a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds three hours previous to this MODIS image, at 15 UTC (10 am EST) Sunday, May 25. Image credit: NASA Worldview.Satellite loops
show that Amanda has been holding its own against moderate wind shear, and is maintaining Category 3 status, with a solid area of heavy thunderstorms with cold cloud tops. Wind shear
is moderate, 15 - 20 knots, and the SHIPS model
shows that sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are a very warm 28 - 29°C, which is well above the typical 26°C threshold needed to maintain a tropical storm. These conditions should allow Amanda to remain a hurricane through Wednesday. By Thursday, Amanda is expected to encounter higher wind shear and cooler waters, which should weaken the storm. Amanda is expected to dissipate before reaching the coast of Mexico. Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1
The Atlantic hurricane season starts next week, and the long-range GFS model continues to suggest that the Western Caribbean will be capable of brewing the season's first "Invest" during the first week of June. Residents of Cuba, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Honduras, and Nicaragua should anticipate the possibility of a multi-day period of disturbed weather with heavy rainfall beginning around June 2.