Tropical Storm Carlotta headed for Mexico
Tropical Storm Carlotta has formed in the eastern Pacific, and it is expected to strengthen into a hurricane and affect the Pacific coast of Mexico. Carlotta is the third named storm of the 2012 Pacific hurricane season. Latest National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisory states that the storm has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and minimum central pressure of 998 mbar. The cyclone is moving north-northwestward at 10 mph; it is situated more than hundred miles south-southwest of the borders of Mexico and Guatemala. Recent satellite image depicts that Carlotta is gradually intensifying and developing a ragged central dense overcast (CDO).
Figure 1. Afternoon visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Carlotta. Image courtesy: NOAA's Satellite Services Division (SSD).
Forecast for Carlotta
Carlotta is anticipated to move northwestward during the next two days by a mid to upper-level high pressure ridge to the northeast of the cyclone, and the upper-level trough to the west of the storm. By the next two days, Carlotta is also predicted to be just offshore or make landfall on the Pacific coast of Mexico between Salina Cruz and Punta Maldonado. After 48 hours, the cyclone is forecasted to turn generally westward by another mid to upper-level ridge, which is building over northern Mexico. After 72 hours, the Mexican ridge is expected to weaken, and result Carlotta in the region of weak steering currents and meander off the coast of Mexico. Most of the models agree to this expected path, while other few models predict Carlotta to move into Bay of Campeche, which I don’t believe it is expected to happen.
Carlotta is currently in the favorable environment with warm sea surface temperature of 30°C (86°F), low wind shear of 10 knots, and moist environment. According to the SHIPS model, the cyclone is expected to remain in a favorable environment for the next 48 hours before it comes very close to land or hit land, which either of these should cause the cyclone to weaken. Carlotta is anticipated to strengthen into a minimal hurricane by the next 24 hours, and possibly make landfall on Mexico by the next 48 hours as a weak hurricane or strong tropical storm. There is a potential that Carlotta could rapidly intensify as some models are indicating, due to favorable conditions that I mentioned earlier. The SHIPS model shows a 64% chance of 25 knots strengthening in the next 24 hours. After 48 hours, land interaction should determine the intensity of Carlotta. If the cyclone moves inland, then it could dissipate there. If Carlotta remains offshore, the cyclone could still weaken, due to the interactions of the mountains in Mexico.
Carlotta is expected to bring very heavy rains and strong winds to the Pacific coast of Mexico, especially between Salina Cruz and Punta Maldonado. They will bring life-threatening floods and mudslides. Residents in this area are urged to monitor the latest information on Carlotta, and prepare for the cyclone’s impacts.
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