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First Hurricane forms in Pacific

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Tropical storm Amanda became Hurricane Amanda this morning, making it the first storm of the Pacific hurricane season. Amanda, currently located over warm water southwest of the Mexican mainland, is strengthening rapidly and is likely to become a major hurricane (Saffir-Simpson category 3, 4 or 5) by Sunday.

It is very unlikely, however, that a hurricane or even a tropical storm will reach us in Los Cabos. In about 48 hours, the storm is expected to begin to weaken rapidly, and it is still quite far away from land. We may not receive any effects at all from the storm, but it is still too far away to know for sure.

Whether or not the storm affects us in Cabo it seems quite early for a storm of this intensity, which stokes fears of a worse than normal hurricane season. The Pacific hurricane season began on May 15 and ends on November 30, but most longtime Cabo residents know from experience that there isn’t much danger of a tropical storm that makes landfall or is a near-miss until July, while the true danger zone in the Cabo hurricane season is August 15 to October 15. However, this is the third year in a row that there has been a named tropical storm in the Pacific in May, and there are always exceptions.

So what does this summer have in store for us? As of May 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is calling for “a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season” which means “a 70 percent chance of 14 to 20 named storms, which includes 7 to 11 hurricanes, of which 3 to 6 are expected to become major hurricanes.” The average number of storms recorded per season over the last 65 years (1949-2013) is 13.2.

If NOAA’s predictions are accurate, that means we are pretty much on a par with last year, though we may see a few more major hurricanes. In 2013 there were 20 total storms, 9 of which were hurricanes including only one major hurricane. How that affects Los Cabos, however, depends entirely on the path the storms take. It’s no big deal if they all head out to sea, but if they come right at us there is always a danger, regardless of the strength of the storm. The NOAA warns that “climate signals point to a potentially active hurricane season for the Eastern Pacific this year, making preparedness more important than ever.”

Many weather forecasts predict an active season because of the effects of “El Niño”. El Niño is an anomaly that causes a band of warm ocean water extending from the Pacific coast of South America westward into the Pacific Ocean. The El Niño anomaly occurs at regular intervals of two to seven years and is blamed for droughts, floods and lower crop yields in affected areas.

Whether or not El Niño will send more hurricanes our way remains to be seen. The current weather is unusual, to say the least, with several days in the past week reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above, a day of light rain, and now the first Pacific hurricane of the year.

Today is bright and sunny with no signs of any bad weather, so if you’re lucky enough to be here, enjoy your Cabo vacation and we’ll keep you posted on any storm developments as they happen.

By Brian Florky

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