Sunday, June 16, 2024

Hurricane Norma strengthens on path towards Baja peninsula

Tropical Storm Norma was upgraded to hurricane status on Wednesday afternoon after it rapidly strengthened well off the Colima and Michoacán coasts, according to Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (SMN) and the U.S.-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Intense rain was expected in several western states, but with the center of the hurricane 545 kilometers southwest of Manzanillo, Colima as of 3 p.m. MDT Tuesday, the NHC noted that “there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.” 

Map of Hurricane Norma's projected wind speeds
Norma’s sustained winds have now reached an average of 130 kmh (National Hurricane Center)

The hurricane is expected to hit Guerrero, Michoacán, Jalisco and Colima with intense, occasional rains, and cause heavy rains in Nayarit, the SMN noted. In addition, winds with gusts of 59 to 80 km/h are expected in Guerrero, Michoacán and Colima, along with waves of 1.8 to 3.9 meters and possible formation of waterspouts.

On Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., Norma had sustained winds of 109 to 112 km/h, gusts of 140 km/h and its moving speed had decreased. By the next report at 3 p.m., its sustained winds had increased to 130 km/h, with gusts of 157 km/h.

Norma qualified as a Category 1 hurricane by having winds of 119 to 152 km/h, with swells that “are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the NHC noted. Its hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 kilometers (25 miles) from the center, with tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 220 kilometers (140 miles).

According to the SMN model, the hurricane could reach Category 3 status (179 to 208 km/h) or beyond on Thursday as it makes its way toward the Baja Peninsula, but gradual weakening is forecast on Friday and Saturday.

Map of Hurricane Norma's projected wind arrival time
Tropical storm-force winds are projected to hit the Baja Peninsula by Friday morning (National Hurricane Center).

Norma isn’t expected to move directly over land until Monday morning, but the NHC said the potential track of the storm has “greater-than-normal uncertainty.”

That may be  because of what happened with Hurricane Lidia earlier this month. After tracking as a tropical storm parallel to and well off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Lidia rapidly intensified and took a sharp right turn toward the state of Jalisco, peaking as a Category 4 hurricane. It battered the coast and killed at least one person.

Still reeling from damage caused by Lidia, the state of Colima began feeling the presence of Norma on Tuesday with intense rain, particularly in the coastal municipalities of Manzanillo, Armería and Tecomán.

With reports from Milenio and Reuters

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