Tropical Storm Polo, the 16th storm of an unusually active eastern Pacific hurricane season, is on a path eerily like that of Odile, which blasted the Baja California peninsula earlier this week.
Odile went ashore late Sept. 14 with top winds of 125 miles (201 kilometers) per hour, the strongest storm to hit the region since 1967. As its winds swept the resort city of Cabo San Lucas, it was a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and a major hurricane.
At its peak, hours before landfall, Odile’s winds reached 135 mph, Category 4-force. Photos from Mexico’s Baja California Sur show houses destroyed, hotels piled with debris and gaping holes in the local airport. At least 30,000 tourists were stranded.
Now Polo has begun its journey up the western coast of Mexico toward the peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific like a lightning rod.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center’s forecast track calls for Polo to skirt Mexico’s mainland through the week and then end up to the west of Baja California over the weekend.
Tracks this far in advance tend to change, sometimes a lot, and the southern tip of Baja California is within what forecasters call the “cone of uncertainty.” In other words, the storm could end up anywhere from well offshore to following Odile’s exact path. Even the hurricane center warns against relying on long-range predictions of where a storm will go.
Last week, Odile had been trending farther away from shore as the days went on. However, the hurricane ended up striking the tip of the peninsula almost head-on.
As Polo gets organized and moves across the warm waters of the Pacific, folks all along the coast of Mexico need to watch it carefully. Even if Polo misses the peninsula, there is a good chance it will drop heavy rain on regions hit by Odile and flooded by Norbert.
Norbert, like Odile, was a major hurricane. It swept past Baja California earlier this month spreading rain across the region. In addition, a finger of moisture reached out from Norbert and flooded Arizona. Odile is forecast to pound the U.S. Southwest some more.
The Eastern Pacific basin’s 30-year average for the six- month tropical season is for 15 named storms, 8 of them hurricanes. There have been 16 storms so far in 2014 and all but five of them became hurricanes. The season has more than two months to go.
The Atlantic, meanwhile, with an average of 12 storms, is on No. 5.
It’s been that kind of year.
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