Hurricane Bud weakened to a Category 1 storm as it neared the southwest Mexican coast, where it may go ashore between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The storm is expected to be “at or just below hurricane strength” when it reaches land late today, the center said in an advisory at about 2 p.m. New York time. There is a 55 percent chance Bud will strike Mexico as a hurricane, according to Tropical Storm Risk, a London-based consortium that tracks such systems.
The storm is moving north at 7 mph and is 75 miles west of Manzanillo.
“Hurricane conditions are expected to reach the coast within the hurricane warning area this afternoon,” the center said in an advisory. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
Bud, with winds of 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour, has weakened since reaching its peak as a major Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds. The mountains of western Mexico are expected to tear at the storm’s structure as it strikes land and returns to the Pacific, breaking it apart in about three days.
The storm may move ashore about 8 p.m. Eastern time with winds of at least 74 mph, the minimum to be considered a hurricane, said Dan Kottlowski, lead hurricane forecaster for AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
Rain Poses Threat
“We think the issue will not be the wind but the rainfall,” Kottlowski said by telephone.
Along the coast and even well inland, 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain may fall, with some areas receiving as much as 14 to 16 inches that will cause floods and mudslides, Kottlowski said.
Mexico’s weather service alerted seven states to prepare for the storm and urged people to be cautious on beaches.
A hurricane warning was in effect from Manzanillo northwest to Cabo Corrientes, and a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch were issued for Punta San Telmo to the east of Manzanillo, the Miami-based NHC said. Hurricane-force winds extend out from the center as much as 35 miles, it said.
“Everything is carrying on as normal,” Mauricio Fuentes, receptionist at the Tesoro resort in Manzanillo, said today by phone. “The hotel is open and will continue working and accepting guests until the authorities tell us we need to start evacuating them.”
Manzanillo’s port is known for container facilities as well as being a destination for cruise ships, while Puerto Vallarta and its beaches have long been a destination for tourists from the U.S. and Canada.
In the Atlantic, a low-pressure system over southern Florida and the Bahamas has a 70 percent of becoming a tropical or subtropical cyclone over the weekend, the NHC said.
Commercial forecasters are split over the potential for the storm.
It probably won’t develop, according to weather models, said Travis Hartman, energy weather manager and meteorologist at MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Kottlowski said it’s possible the system may become Tropical Storm Beryl by tomorrow. The storm is being held back by strong wind shear today; by tomorrow, conditions will have improved for development, although the window for growth will be small, he said.
Atlantic Weather Patterns
A high-pressure system will set up over the U.S. and create a clockwise spin in the atmosphere that will carry the system into the coastline whether it has formed or not.
“There is a reasonable chance it could become a full-blown tropical storm,” Kottlowski said.
It’s over the same warm water that produced Tropical Storm Alberto last week, he said. The Atlantic storm season doesn’t officially begin until June 1.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is warning residents to pay attention to the system, which may bring heavy rains and gusty winds to the state even if it doesn’t reach tropical storm status, according to an e-mailed statement.
When a system’s winds reach 39 mph, it’s given a name and officially becomes a tropical storm. A storm becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.
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