Storm Norma to intensify to hurricane strength

Tropical Storm Norma was expected to strengthen to hurricane status as it headed towards the popular Los Cabos tourist area on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicted.

A Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale has maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph.

Norma is forecast to approach southern Baja California around midday on Sunday 22 October, according to the NHC.

As of 900 PM MDT (0300 UTC)on 18 October, the centre of Tropical Storm Norma was located near latitude 13.7 North, longitude 107.8 West.  Norma was moving toward the northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h), and a  north westward to north-north westward motion at a slightly slower forward speed is expected during the next several days, according to the NHC.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km) from the centre.

The NHC added that for the next couple of days, “the storm should be in an atmospheric and oceanic environment that will be quite conducive for strengthening”.

“The SHIPS Rapid Intensification (RI) indices and  the DTOPS probabilities for RI suggest a high likelihood for  significant strengthening during the next 48 hours or so.  This is also reflected in the NHC intensity forecast, which explicitly  shows RI in the earlier part of the period.  In 3 to 5 days, higher  south-south westerly vertical wind shear and drier air is likely to inhibit strengthening.  The official forecast is near or above the intensity model consensus.”

Last week, Hurricane Lidia battered Mexico’s mainland Pacific coast with significant rainfall and strong winds, killing at least one person.