Tropical storm Carlotta gained hurricane status this morning and continues to intensify in the Eastern Pacific. The category 1 storm has its sights set on the southwest coast of Mexico and may grow to category 2 levels - winds to 100 mph - before striking land. Hurricane warnings have been posted from Salina Cruz to Acapulco.
At 11 am (ET or 8 am PT), the center of storm was positioned 330 miles southeast of Acapulco and is moving northwest at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 80 mph. The National Hurricane Center calls for “rapid strengthening” this afternoon and tonight.
In its morning forecast discussion, the National Hurricane Center wrote:
CONVECTION AND MICROWAVE SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOW THAT CARLOTTA HAS BECOME MUCH BETTER ORGANIZED..WITH THE FORMATION OF AN EYEWALL AND EYE INSIDE A WELL-DEFINED CENTRAL DENSE OVERCAST.
. . .
CARLOTTA APPEARS TO BE UNDERGOING RAPID INTENSIFICATION...AND THIS IS LIKELY TO CONTINUE UNTIL THE CENTER MOVES NEAR OR OVER THE MEXICAN COAST IN 18 HR OR SO. THE EARLY PART OF THE INTENSITY FORECAST HAS BEEN REVISED UPWARD...
Forecast maximum sustained winds at landfall are around 100 mph.
Landfall is set to occur around 2 am (ET, or 5 am PT) but heavy rain and wind will begin battering the coast well before that.
Local radar imagery from Puerto Angel already shows some of the storm’s outer bands moving inland with Carlotta’s well-defined eye offshore.
NHC expects tropical storm conditions in the affected areas this afternoon and hurricane conditions tonight. As the storm makes landfall early tomorrow morning, a dangerous storm surge will push ashore north and east of the center.
The most signficant impact from Carlotta is likely to be flooding rain and possible mudslides. Writes the NHC:
ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES...75 TO 125 MM...OVER THE MEXICAN STATES OF CHIAPAS...GUERRERO...AND NORTHERN OAXACA...WITH 6 TO 10 INCHES...150 TO 250 MM...EXPECTED OVER SOUTHERN OAXACA. ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 12 TO 15 INCHES...300 TO 375 MM MM...ARE ANTICIPATED ALONG THE OAXACA COAST...WITH 6 TO 8 INCHES...150 TO 200 MM ALONG THE GUERRERO COAST.
AccuWeather notes the mountains of Oaxaca could see “feet of rain” due to upslope flow enhancing rainfall coupled with the fact parts of the storm will linger for days.
Although the most severe impacts from Carlotta are expected in the hurricane warning area between Salina Cruz and Acapulco, heavy rains and gusty winds are possible in the hurricane watch area, which spans from: (north)west of Acapulco to Tecpan de Galeana and (south)east of Salina Cruz to Barra de Tonala.