Strong Tropical Storm Just Below Hurricane Strength
The Atlantic Basin was not the only one that was quiet recently. The Eastern Pacific theater was also dormant. For a period of 21 days from the last advisory on Hurricane Fabio to the first advisory on Tropical Storm Gilma, there was no real activity, which is somewhat unusual considering more was expected in the EPAC this year. The Atlantic had been quiet for 34 days before Ernesto stirred up this time last week.
Nevertheless, Gilma is now the story in the Eastern Pacific although there is another area of disturbed weather to the east of our tropical storm, and the National Hurricane Center gives it about a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone of some sort within the next 48 hours. Gilma emerged on Tuesday, and rapidly developed into a strong tropical storm that has been on the cusp of hurricane strength for much of the day on Wednesday.
Currently, Gilma is located some 695 miles to the Southwest of the tip of Baja California in Western Mexico. Maximum sustained winds are at 70 miles per hour with gusts in excess of 75 knots or 85 miles per hour. Barometric pressure in the center of circulation is estimated to be 989 millibars or 29.21 inches of Hg (Mercury). The storm is moving to the West-Northwest at 10 miles per hour, and it is not a threat to any land masses at this time. So, no watches or warnings are in effect.
Looking at the 5:00 PM Forecast Discussion from the NHC, the satellite representation of the storm has been the subject of slightly differing opinions. One camp has the estimated intensity at 65 knots while the other has it at 55 knots. So, the NHC made a compromise between the two with its current strength at 60 knots or 70 miles per hour. The intensity forecast is calling for Gilma to strengthen to a hurricane, but not much stronger than a minimal one of 75 miles per hour. Sea surface temperatures are expected to get progressively colder as the storm moves further west with time.
Forecast track has it continuing slowly westward and curving more northward over the next three to five days. With the development of Gilma, there have been seven named storms in the Eastern Pacific. Five of them so far have been hurricanes, and we could have a sixth with Gilma. Of those five hurricanes to date, two of them (Bud and Emilia) became major hurricanes of Category Three strength.
Meanwhile, on the Atlantic Basin activity scoreboard, there have been six named storms and two of them have become hurricanes. None of the hurricanes have been major with Ernesto being the strongest to date with 85 mile per hour winds at peak. Both basins have not had a depression that hasn’t become a tropical storm. The Atlantic has been the most active over the past week with two storms forming.