Fourteenth Named Storm of Season in EPAC Strengthens into Sixth Major Storm

In what has already been a very busy season in the Eastern Pacific, things got even busier over the past several days. Hurricane Norbert not only became the 14th named storm of the season in the region, but also strengthened into the season’s eighth hurricane and now sixth major hurricane. Norbert became the latest major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific late Friday night, and now has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 150 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in the storm is down to 957 millibars, or 28.26 inches of Hg (Mercury).

Located some 95 miles to the west of Cabo San Lazaro, or some 225 miles to the South-Southeast of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, Norbert is moving parallel to the coast of Baja with a Northwest track at a modest 8 miles per hour. Currently, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for portions of Baja California from Santa Fe to Punta Eugenia and from San Evaristo to Loreto. The area that encompasses hurricane force winds is a bit small at some 45 miles from the center while tropical storm force winds reach out about 140 miles from the center. The key effects from this system will be tropical storm force winds, some rain, and dangerous surf and rip currents.

With Norbert strengthening to a major hurricane, expect a repeat of what happened about a week or so ago when what was once Category Five Hurricane Marie stirred up historic wave heights and surf from Baja California to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and up to Southern California in the United States. While the surf and waves may not be as high as those from Marie, it will be significant enough to attract some attention from surfers and curiosity seekers. Rainfall amounts of one to two inches is expected from the outer bands of the storm. Although the forecasted El Nino has not developed, and is not anticipated to be as strong as previously thought, activity in the Eastern Pacific has been noteworthy.

As of today (September 6th), the Eastern Pacific has already seen its “N” named storm. Last year, the “N” storm didn’t occur for another month (October 6th), and 2013 was still a busy season with 18 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and just one major hurricane. This year alone, there have been four storms of at least Category Four strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with one (Marie) reaching Category Five levels. The last time, there was a Category Five Hurricane in the Eastern Pacific was 2010. In addition, three storms that originated in the EPAC eventually moved into the Central Pacific and threatened Hawaii.