With just about a month left in the eastern Pacific’s hurricane season, Mexico is once again the target of a tropical system on its western coast.
The latest system, Tropical Storm Vance, was drifting west in the Pacific Ocean with top winds of 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour yesterday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The projected track raised the possibility Mexico will take another tropical hit in the next week.
“It isn’t out of the question, it is going to take a loop to get there,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
Mexico’s west coast has been threatened and hit by tropical systems all through this overactive season. One of the most devastating strikes came when Hurricane Odile plowed into Baja California Sur in September, leaving at least 30,000 tourists stranded for days and shutting down hotels in the resort area for weeks.
Hotel revenue per available room fell 6.4 percent in September, the first decline since August 2011 and almost certainly because of Odile’s power, according to data compiled by Brian C. Miller and Margaret Huang, Bloomberg Intelligence gaming and lodging analysts.
On Oct. 1, the Mexican government said insured damages caused by the Category 3 Odile may top 7 billion pesos ($521 million). Unofficially, it tied with Olivia in 1967 as the strongest storm to come ashore in that region since the start of the satellite era.
The results are unofficial because a thorough analysis of Odile, as well as the other storms, will be done at the end of the year by the hurricane center. Sometimes a storm’s power can be upgraded or downgraded after that analysis.
The damage from this year’s eastern Pacific tropical systems has reached far beyond Mexico. Flooding rains drenched the U.S. Southwest at least three times as moisture reached out from the Pacific or came with the remnants of the storms.
The eastern Pacific has overachieved this year. From 1971 to 2009, the basin produced an average of 15 named storms with the last one appearing by Nov. 5. Vance makes 20 this year and the season officially ends Nov. 30. Of course, just because the calendar says the season is over doesn’t mean the ocean will cooperate. Storms will form whenever conditions are right.
Late yesterday the hurricane center called for the storm’s top winds to reach at least 80 mph, or Category 1 strength, by next week. The track and the strength projections are almost certainly going to change. The four-day track deviation can reach 200 miles, approximately the distance between New York and Boston.
“From this far out, I kind of think you are throwing darts,” Kines said. “It’s obviously a system that has to be watched.”
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