The tropics in the Eastern Pacific continue to be busy with storms although they haven't had quite the punch of some of the recent storms in the Atlantic. Hurricane Henriette became the eighth named storm of the 2007 EPAC Season, and battled to become a strong tropical storm before finall breaking through the minimal hurricane threshold. In addition, it became a storm that made two landfalls along the Mexican West Coast including one a few hours after Hurricane Felix came ashore in Central America near Cabo Gracias A Dios in Northern Nicaragua.
While the Atlantic has finally started to get active within the past 45 days or so, the Eastern Pacific has had a bit better start. After Tropical Storm Gil formed, and later weakened over the cooler waters of the Eastern North Pacific, another storm began to take shape. Henriette would develop along the coast of the Mexican Riviera, where resort towns such as Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco are destinations for many looking to enjoy a nice vacation.
The storm would be the latest in the litany of eleven depressions, eight named storms, two hurricanes, and one major hurricane that have formed already in the EPAC in 2007. Despite the dissipation of a moderate El Niño earlier in the year, and forecasts calling for a weak La Niña to form in the last few months of 2007, there has been quite a bit of activity in the Eastern Pacific. Tropical Storm Henriette brought drenching rains to the West Coast of Mexico, and left seven people dead before moving away from the coast.
Henriette battled to become a hurricane with its winds getting as high as seventy-five miles per hour. However, it just couldn't quite get up to that level until it got into the area of Baja California, where it eventually made its second landfall in Northwestern Mexico off the Gulf of California. The storm ended up killing two more people for a total of nine even though its winds couldn't get any stronger than a minimal Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, and gusts exceeding 105 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 972 millibars, or 28.70 inches of Hg (Mercury).
Forming a day before Hurricane Felix did in the Western Atlantic, Henriette didn't become a hurricane until the morning of Tuesday, September 4th, 2007. Meanwhile, Felix grew to a hurricane rapidly during the Labor Day Weekend as it became the second Category Five storm in the Atlantic Basin in just the past two weeks alone while also becoming the eighth in the past five years, and the ninth in the last ten. This year, it seems that big storms in the Atlantic have been paired up with big storms in the Eastern Pacific.
A couple weeks ago, Hurricane Flossie was churning toward the Hawaiian Islands after starting out modestly in the Eastern Pacific while Hurricane Dean was in its formative stages. This time, what became Hurricane Henriette was dueting with Hurricane Felix in the Atlantic. Joined at the hip so much, these two storms would become the first storms ever recorded to make landfall in their respective basins on the same day. Henriette came ashore in Baja California and then along the Gulf of California in Northwestern Mexico while Felix slammed into the Central American coastline near the town of Cabo Gracias A Dios in extreme Northern Nicaragua.
Henriette became only the third hurricane in the EPAC this year. The other two were Flossie, a Category Four Hurricane, and Cosme, another minimal hurricane. Henriette first emerged as the eleventh tropical depression of 2007 some 250 miles to the Southeast of Acapulco, Mexico at 2:00 PM PDT (5:00 PM EDT) on August 30th. Hugging the coast of the Mexican Riviera, Henriette brought rainfall amounts between 4 to 8 inches initially with isolated areas receiving upwards of 15 inches. Then, after becoming the eighth named storm in the EPAC for 2007 at 5:00 AM PDT (8:00 AM EDT) on August 31st, rainfall amounts ranged from 3 to 5 inches with isolated amounts of ten inches in some areas.
A little more than 36 hours later, the storm was on the verge of being a hurricane as its maximum sustained winds reached 70 miles per hour. Gusts were higher at 85 miles per hour. Barometric pressure had fallen to 994 millibars, or 29.35 inches of Hg. However, Henriette couldn't cross that 74 mile per hour threshold into hurricane status. For nearly two days, Henriette hung on the cusp of becoming the third hurricane in the Eastern Pacific, but circumstances kept it from getting there. Nevertheless, the storm persisted at maximum tropical storm strength with 70 mile per hour winds.
Early on Labor Day, the storm had weakened to only have 65 mile per hour winds, but that only lasted for about six hours. Twenty-four hours after that on Tuesday, September 4th, Henriette finally moved into hurricane territory with the system reaching peak intensity as it closed in on the Baja Peninsula. Three hours later at 11:00 AM PDT (2:00 PM EDT), the storm's eyewall was moving in on the Baja Peninsula, and then by mid-afternoon the storm had come ashore in the Southern tip of the Baja near the town of San Jose Del Cabo. The storm made landfall just six hours after Felix crashed ashore in Nicaragua. Henriette continued to move northward over the Southern portion of the Baja Peninsula before emerging in the Sea of Cortez by early evening on Tuesday, September 4th.
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After moving out over water again, Hurricane Henriette was a weaker storm with just the bare minimum in terms of maximum sustained winds needed to be a hurricane. With winds just at 75 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 28.94 inches, or 980 millibars, the storm took aim at Northern Mexico. As the storm navigated the narrow Gulf of California toward its second landfall, Henriette gutted it out by maintaining its Category One Hurricane force. The storm, which was slightly bigger than its Atlantic counterpart, Felix, had hurricane force winds extending some 30 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reached out some 125 miles.
Rainfall amounts were expected to range from 4 to 8 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as a foot of rain. Moreover, storm surge levels were expected to run between three to five feet above normal. Similar to the beginning of this storm's life, the heavy rains produced life threatening floods and mudslides. Before Henriette was through, another two people would die in Northwestern Mexico. The storm finally made its second and final landfall near Guaymas, Mexico at 5:00 PM PDT on September 5th, and gradually weakened as it moved further inland over Mexico's interior. Even though it dissipated to a depression, Henriette still managed to bring a fair share of rain to the Desert Southwest region of Arizona and New Mexico before it was through.
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