Henriette May Only Be A Storm, But It’s Still Causing Problems

Good morning everyone. This continue to get busy in the Tropical Atlantic as Felix became a hurricane on Saturday night, and then strengthened to a strong Category Two storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 100 mile per hour winds on Sunday morning. The latest information I’ve heard from the Weather Channel is that Felix is still showing signs of strengthening as colder cloud tops are beginning to show more and more on the composite infared satellite, and its well defined pinhole shaped eye. It is quite possible that in the 11 AM EDT Advisory from the NHC, Felix will be reclassified as a major hurricane. If that does happen, the storm will become the second major storm of the season along with Dean. More details will be coming in both the Hurricaneville Storm Report and Tracking the Tropics.

However, what I really wanted to focus on in this particular blog entry is another storm, Tropical Storm Henriette. Henriette is the eighth named storm to form in the Eastern Pacific basin in 2007, and it is very close to making it up to hurricane strength. If it does, Henriette will be the first hurricane in the EPAC since Hurricane Flossie, which went on to threaten Hawaii several weeks ago. Currently, Henriette has winds of very strong tropical storm force at 70 miles per hour while its minimum central pressure has dropped to 994 millibars, or 29.35 inches of Hg. The system is still quite small with tropical storm force winds extending some 85 miles from its center of circulation. Now located some 125 miles West-Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or 395 miles Southeast of the Southern tip of Baja California.

Earlier this weekend, Tropical Storm Henriette caused a ton of problems along the West Coast of Mexico, particularly in the resort areas such as Acapulco. Torrential rains have produced flooding and mudslides that have forced boulders to come down out of mountainsides into local villages. So far the death toll stands at six people killed from the storm’s effects. Over the past 12 to 24 hours, Henriette has pulled away from the Mexican West Coast out into the open waters, where it is not only expected to strengthen, but also forecast to move up north to threaten the area around Baja California. So far this season, the Eastern Pacific has had 11 depressions and 8 named storms, but only two hurricanes and one major hurricane. By contrast, the Atlantic Basin has had six named storms including one subtropical system, two hurricanes, and one major hurricane. However, if Felix continues to strengthen, the Atlantic could have more major hurricanes than the EPAC.

The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season starts a couple weeks earlier than the Atlantic. Starting on May 15th every year, the season lasts until November 30th. Last season, the EPAC was the most active it has been since the memorable season of 1997. Both last year and 1997 were El Niño years. Each of those seasons were below average in the Atlantic Basin. The reverse has happened in all the other seasons since 1995. El Niño is a climatic condition that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the Pacific become warmer than normal. When this climate pattern develops, it can have far reaching effects around the world including tropical activity in both the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic Basins. Tropical Storm and Hurricane activity increases in the EPAC while it decreases in the Atlantic. La Niña is the exact opposite of El Niño. During a La Niña event, sea surface temperatures are cooler than normal in the Pacific, and that usually means fewer storms and hurricanes in the EPAC while more in the Atlantic.