Destructive Hurricane Odile powered ashore at Cabo San Lucas on Mexico's Baja Peninsula near 12:45 am EDT Monday as a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds. Odile was the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Baja Peninsula, tied with Hurricane Olivia of 1967. An Air Force hurricane hunter plane was in Odile Sunday afternoon, and measured a surface pressure of 922 mb. This pressure puts Odile in pretty select company--only two other Eastern Pacific hurricanes have had lower pressures measured in them by the Hurricane Hunters (though a total of eleven Eastern Pacific hurricanes have had lower pressures, if we include satellite-estimated pressures.) The only major hurricane on record to affect Southern Baja was Hurricane Kiko of 1989, which moved ashore on the Gulf of California side of the peninsula just south of La Paz as a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds.
Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Odile approaching the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, taken at approximately 4:30 pm EDT Sunday September 14, 2014. At the time, Odile was a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.
Figure 2. Last radar image of Hurricane Odile taken at 4:46 pm EDT Sunday September 14, 2014, before the radar failed. Image credit: Conagua.
Damage from Odile will be heavy
A Personal Weather Station in Santa Rosa, about 3 miles inland from the coastal city of San Jose del Cabo, recorded winds of 76 mph, gusting to 114 mph, between 11 - 11:30 pm local time Sunday night. The station measured 27.36" of rain, which I believe (and hope!) is erroneous. All other weather stations, including the official airport stations in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, failed before the eye of the storm hit the coast. Storm chaser Josh Morgerman of iCyclone weathered the storm in a hotel in Cabo San Lucas. His reports last night paint a picture of an extremely violent and dangerous hurricane landfall:
9:20 pm. Front doors of hotel blew out of their frames while I was on with The Weather Channel. We've now piled a mountain of furniture against the broken frames. Wind blowing into lobby. Building getting hammered. Screaming, roaring sounds. Whoa. Building just enveloped in raw power.
9:35 pm. We must be in inner eyewall. High-energy blasts of wind smashing building, finishing off doors. Violence. The mountain of furniture can't keep it out. Whoever said outer eyewall had the max winds was wrong-- inner *way* worse.
10 pm. Ears popping. Front entrance completely destroyed. Debris blowing by opening at great speeds. Car alarms going off. Rain and wind enveloping lobby.
10:10 pm. Sounds of trains going by, with whistling. Ears hurt from pressure. Large, thick plate-glass window just exploded-- didn't break, exploded. Interior walls vibrating. One of the worst cyclones I've ever been in. Frightening.
10:35 pm. It's calming. Yes, I think it's calming, praise the Lord. Barometer just dipping down to 949 mb now.
11:05 pm. Calm-- or what feels like calm when you're shell-shocked. Winds maybe 20 knots. Pressure 942.8 mb. People peeking outside, walking around. The front of the hotel looks like it was put through a blender.
11:25 am. Hissing sounds, and a low howl. A piece of tin tumbling across the parking lot. Pressure back up to 952 mb. The eye is passing and we're going back into the cyclone.
Midnight. CODE RED. At 11:46 pm, the backside of the eyewall hit-- no buildup-- just all of a sudden the howling and banging started up again. The hotel manager joked that it sounded like gunshots. Then at maybe midnight... BOOM!!!!! The entire glass wall of the lobby EXPLODED-- with glass, pieces of building, everything flying to the other end of the lobby. Like an explosion in an action movie. A hotel worker and I ducked under the reception counter-- I physically grabbed his head and pushed it under the counter. Glass was everywhere-- my leg gashed-- blood. We crawled into the office-- me, the worker, and the manager-- but the ceiling started to lift up. After five minutes of debate-- breathing hard like three trapped animals-- we made a run for it-- went running like HELL across the lobby-- which is now basically just OUTSIDE-- and made it to the stairwell and an interior hallway. Two nice women dressed my wound. I don't know where my cameradude, Steven, is. I need to find him. People are scared.
1 am. I found Steve-- we were tearfully reunited. I say tearfully because I was so happy to find him alive and OK in the chaos I got emotional. After roaming the flooded, dark hallways alone, I found him sheltered in a bathroom next to the lobby with two other guests. The lobby itself is a heap of wreckage. Steve was in the cloud of flying glass as that wall exploded. Like us, he had to run like hell-- and like me, he was bloodied. Steve saw me and my partners scampering like rats across the lobby earlier-- when we made our escape-- but I didn't hear his calling over the roar of the wind. What you see here is my leg-- dressed in a towel-- Steve's wound dressed in duct tape, and a shoe he fashioned out of duct tape (because he lost his). We're in an interior hall now. We're OK. I think the wind is quieting down. I think. Parts of the hotel are smashed beyond recognition.
Figure 3. The Cabo Villas Beach Cam was still sending images Monday morning after Odile smashed it to the ground. Image credit: Cabo Villas.
Forecast for Odile
Interaction with the rough terrain of the Baja Peninsula knocked Odile down to Category 2 strength with 110 mph winds by 8 am EDT Monday, and the storm will continue to steadily weaken as it moves along the peninsula and its circulation moves over cooler waters. Wind damage will continue to be a major concern through Monday evening, but by Tuesday, heavy rains will be the main concern. Odile's circulation is bringing up plenty of moisture from the Tropical Pacific and from Tropical Depression Sixteen to its southwest, and this moisture will create flooding rains over Northern Mexico and the Southwest U.S. beginning on Tuesday. The 06Z Monday run of the GFDL model put Central Arizona in the highest risk area for heavy precipitation from Odile's moisture.
Figure 4. Predicted rainfall amounts for the 5-day period beginning at 2 am EDT Monday September 15, 2014 from Hurricane Odile, from the GFDL hurricane model. Regions of Mexico along the Gulf of California are expected to receive 8 - 16", while a portion of Central Arizona is predicted to get 4 - 8". Image credit: NOAA/GFDL.
New tropical storm likely to form off the coast of Mexico this week
Our top models for predicting genesis of tropical cyclones are keen on developing a broad area of low pressure (Invest 97E) located about 500 miles south-southeast of Acapulco, Mexico. This system is predicted to follow a northwesterly path parallel to the Pacific coast of Mexico, and might be a danger to Baja early next week--though it is too early to know. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 50% and 70%, respectively.
Figure 5. Tracks of all Category 2 and stronger hurricanes to pass within 75 miles of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula (light circle) between 1949 - 2013. Only one major hurricane--Hurricane Kiko of 1989--hit Baja during this time span. Data taken from NOAA/CSC's Historical Hurricane Tracks website.
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.
Since July, the Eastern Pacific has had ocean temperatures about 0.6°C (1°F) above average and wind shear about 20% below average. The region has been dominated by moist, rising air and low pressure, leading to above average vertical instability. All of these factors are favorable for an active hurricane season. The Atlantic and Eastern Pacific are usually out of phase with their hurricane seasons--when one is active, the other is inactive. This occurs because when the large-scale atmospheric circulation favors rising air and low pressure over one ocean basin, there must be high pressure and dry, sinking air elsewhere to compensate--which typically occurs over the neighboring ocean basin, suppressing hurricane activity there. See my September 11 post for detailed graphics on why the Eastern Pacific has been so favorable for hurricane formation this year.
Figure 6. Latest satellite image of Edouard.
Edouard becomes a Category 2 hurricane; not a threat to land
The strongest hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season so far is Hurricane Edouard, which intensified into a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds at 5 am EDT Monday. The previous strongest storm of 2014 was Hurricane Arthur, which topped out at sustained winds of 100 mph as it hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina in early July. Edouard continues chugging to the northwest at 15 mph over the Central Atlantic, and is not a threat to any land areas. Satellite images show that Edouard remains well-organized with a prominent eye. Edouard is likely to become the first major hurricane in two years in the Atlantic by Tuesday.
Quiet in the rest of the Atlantic
There is a new tropical wave predicted to come off the coast of Africa on Thursday that two of our reliable genesis models are predicting could develop near the Cape Verde Islands by Friday or Saturday. The GFS ensemble forecast is also highlighting the Southwest Caribbean waters near the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras may be an area to watch for development late this week. NHC is not yet highlighting either of these areas in their Monday morning Tropical Weather Outlook.
Figure 7. Tropical Storm Kalmaegi swirls to the south of the island of Taiwan at night, as seen from the International Space Station by astronaut Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) at 3 pm EDT September 14, 2014. At the time, Kalmaegi had just crossed the Philippines' Luzon Island as a Category 1 typhoon, and had weakened to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds. Hong Kong is the other bright patch of lights. Image credit: Reid Wiswman.
Typhoon Kalmaegi hits the Philippines
In the Western Pacific, Category 1 Typhoon Kalmaegi hit Luzon Island in the Philippines on Sunday as a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds, but weakened to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds by the time it emerged into the South China Sea. Kalmaegi has re-intensified into a Category 1 typhoon with 75 mph winds, and is expected to make landfall near China's Hainan Island south of Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
Dangerous Category 3 Odile Bearing Down on Baja
Dangerous Category 3 Hurricane Odile is bearing down on Mexico's Baja Peninsula as the storm steams north-northwestwards at 14 mph towards the southwestern tip of Baja. Odile is likely to be the strongest or second strongest hurricane on record to affect Southern Baja. An Air Force hurricane hunter plane was in Odile Sunday afternoon, and measured top surface winds of 125 mph, with a surface pressure of 922 mb. This pressure puts Odile in pretty select company--only...
Read Article -
Dangerous Category 4 Odile Threatens Baja; Edouard Becomes a Hurricane
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 rain...
Read Article -
Gulf of Mexico Disturbance 92L Disorganized; Baja Watching Hurricane Odile
A small area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico a few hundred miles west of South Florida (Invest 92L) is bringing heavy rains to the waters of the Florida Straits, but satellite loops show that this activity is poorly organized. Strong upper level winds out of the north are creating a moderately high 15 - 20 knots of wind shear, and the atmosphere is fairly dry to the north, interfering with development. Ocean temperatures are a very warm 30°C (86°F) over the ...
Read Article -
92L Bringing Heavy Rains to Florida; Edouard Forms in Central Atlantic
A small area of low pressure over South Florida (Invest 92L) is bringing heavy rains to South Florida and the waters of the Florida Straits, but Miami radar and satellite loops show that this activity is less organized than on Thursday. Strong upper level winds out of the north-northeast are creating a high 20 - 25 knots of wind shear, and the atmosphere is moderately dry to the north, interfering with development. While the circulation center of 92L is over land, d...
Read Article -