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Dangerous Category 4 Odile Threatens Baja; Edouard Becomes a Hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:58 PM GMT on September 14, 2014

Hurricane Warnings are flying for Mexico's Baja Peninsula as dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Odile approaches. Odile put on an impressive burst of rapid intensification Saturday night, going from a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds to a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds in just 24 hours. Satellite loops show that Odile has likely topped out in strength, but the storm has a large area of very intense eyewall thunderstorms and a prominent eye. Odile's heavy rains have mostly remained offshore of Mexico, though an outer spiral band brushed the Southwest coast of Mainland Mexico on Saturday, bringing 0.31" of a rain and a wind gust of 32 mph to Manzanillo. Baja will not be so lucky. The eyewall of Odile is likely to pass over or just to the west of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula just before midnight PDT Sunday night. The 11 am EDT Sunday NHC Wind Probability Forecast gave Cabo San Lucas on the southwestern tip of the Baja Peninsula a 99% chance of seeing tropical storm-force winds of 39+ mph, and a 47% chance of hurricane-force winds. These odds were 98% and 19%, respectively for San Jose del Cabo, about 30 miles farther to the northeast. Tropical moisture flowing northwards from Odile's circulation is likely to bring heavy rains to Northern Mexico and the Southwest U.S. late this week. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft will investigate Odile Sunday afternoon.

Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Odile off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, taken at approximately 4 pm EDT Saturday September 13, 2014. At the time, Odile was a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Mexican radar
Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa webcam in Cabo San Lucas

An incredibly active year for major Eastern Pacific hurricanes
Odile's intensification into a Category 4 storm gives the Eastern Pacific east of 140°W seven major hurricanes so far this year. With the season typically only about two-thirds over by September 14, we have a decent chance of tying or beating the record of eight intense hurricanes in a season, set in 1992. The 2014 tally for the Eastern Pacific east of 140°W currently stands at 15 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 7 intense hurricanes. An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season sees 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes during the entire year. The records for total number of named storms, hurricanes, and intense hurricanes were all set in 1992, with 25 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and 8 intense hurricanes. If we include the Central Pacific between 140°W and 180°W, these record tallies in 1992 were 28 named storms, 16 hurricanes, and 10 intense hurricanes, compared with the 2014 totals of 15 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 8 intense hurricanes (Genevieve did not become a hurricane and then major hurricane until it crossed from the Eastern Pacific into the Central Pacific.) What's really remarkable about the 2014 season is the proportion of named storms that have intensified to major hurricane strength: 8 of 15, or more than 50%. That's really difficult to do, particularly when the cold water wakes left behind by previous major hurricanes chill down the sea surface temperatures.

Edouard becomes a hurricane; not a threat to land
The fourth hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is Edouard, which intensified into a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds at 11 am EDT Sunday. Edouard continues chugging to the northwest at 16 mph over the Central Atlantic, and is not a threat to any land areas. Satellite images show that Edouard has a large area of heavy thunderstorms with an intermittent eye.

Figure 2. Latest satellite image of Edouard.

Quiet in the rest of the Atlantic
The two tropical disturbances we were following Saturday, Invest 92L in the Gulf of Mexico and Invest 93L a few hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, have become disorganized due to excess dry air. None of the three reliable computer models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis develop these systems. There is a new tropical wave predicted to come off the coast of Africa on Thursday that the GFS and European models are predicting could develop near the Cape Verde Islands by Friday. NHC is not yet highlighting this tropical wave in their Tropical Weather Outlook.

Typhoon Kalmaegi hits the Philippines
In the Western Pacific, Category 1 Typhoon Kalmaegi made landfall over Luzon Island in the Philippines on Sunday as a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds. Kalmaegi is expected lose strength as it passes over the mountainous terrain of Luzon, then re-intensify as it crosses the South China Sea early this week, before making landfall in China south of Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Edouard moving a little more W/WNW might get close to Bermuda

or pull an Ike 08, don't know , just sayin
Its interesting how the tropical Atlantic is barren but the tropical east Pacific is near record active this year. In reality the synoptic patterns that cause this is not much different than why some years the western U.S. has a warm winter and the eastern U.S. has a cold one, or vice versa. My analogy is not the winters are related at all, but that simply that sometimes in meteorology, stubborn large scale patterns remain in places for a while, allowing large contrasts weather over a season between two regions.

The East Pacific is having a season like the Atlantic Basin did in 2004 and 2005, however, who's to say it couldn't reverse next year, or the year after?

Now that may not happen at all of course, but I see that some have seemed to think that the Atlantic hurricane basin is dying. That is just nonsense scientifically, I understand the emotion to want an active season. But its no different than how some years your area will be wet, other years dry, some years cold, others hot. We are at any extremely low period of activity, but there will be another time in the future we will again say "when will they STOP coming!?"

Everyone still thinking that 2014 is gonna produce a couple of Major hurricanes in the Atlantic?