Thursday, May 30, 2013

Season's first hurricane makes some news

If Barbara is an example of what we'll get from the 2013 hurricane season, this will be an interesting summer and autumn.

Barbara was an Eastern Pacific Ocean storm that made landfall Wednesday on the southwest coast of Mexico as a minimal hurricane. Its top sustained winds increased to the hurricane threshold, 75 mph, shortly before it reached land.

The storm has dumped extremely heavy rain across southwest Mexico and parts of Central America, and that could cause life-threatening floods over the next few days.

But Barbara made news in two other ways.

First, it was the second-earliest named storm ever in the Eastern Pacific, beaten out only by Tropical Storm Bud, which formed on May 21 last year.

Of more interest to those of us in the Southeast is what happened to Barbara after it reached land. The storm quickly weakened to a tropical storm, and then to a tropical depression. But its center of circulation remained intact across Mexico and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Don't worry -- there's no chance of this system regaining strength and pushing to the northeast, threatening the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Chris Landsea, of the National Hurricane Center, says the circulation of Barbara was barely recognizable Thursday morning. Its trip across southwest Mexico had pretty much destroyed the storm's circulation, and forecasters don't expect Barbara to move very far into the Gulf before curving back toward the Mexican coast again.

In short, it will be a southern Mexican and Central American storm. But it's always a bit unsettling when the hurricane season starts this early.


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