On a collision course with the west coast of Mexico, major hurricane Jova continues intensifying. Packing sustained winds of 125 mph, the high-end category 3 storm could reach “catastrophic” category 4 levels prior to landfall.
Positioned 250 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Jova is headed east at 5 mph and is expected to turn northeastward tonight. Landfall is anticipated Tuesday night somewhere between Punta San Telmo, Mexico north to Cabo Corrientes, where hurricane warnings have been issued. The warning area includes the resort towns of Barra de Navidad and Puerto Vallarta (webcam).
Jova has a well-defined eye in satellite imagery and may actually be consuming some of the energy from tropical storm Irwin, about 500 miles to its west. But as Jova’s a compact hurricane, it’s particularly sensitive to environmental conditions and could quickly spin up or spin down a bit.
For example, eyewall replacement cycles could result in fluctuations in Jova’s strength. Nevertheless, in front of Jova, wind shear is light and sea surface temperature are warm, conditions favorable for additional intensification prior to landfall. As such, the National Hurricane Center predicts Jova will maintain major hurricane status prior to landfall if not grow stronger.
When Jova makes landfall, it is likely to push a destructive storm surge onshore, particulary just south of its center. In addition to surge, extremely powerful winds and torrential rains will sock the coast. The NHC forecasts 5-10 inches of rain with isolated amounts to 15 inches.
Wunderground’s Jeff Masters notes Jova may well become one of the most intense hurricane to hit the west coast of Mexcio in recent decades:
If Jova maintains its current central pressure of 960 mb until landfall, it will rank as one of the ten most intense Pacific hurricanes to hit Mexico since record keeping began in 1949.
On Jova’s tail, tropical storm Irwin not so distantly follows. However, Irwin is having some difficulty holding together, as it ingests stable air and fights off easterly wind shear. With maximum winds of 40 mph, it is forecast to continue eastward and very slowly weaken. It could also make landfall along Mexico’s west coast later this week, not far from where Jova does, but may be a fairly weak storm at that point. The storm could even stall and dissipate just off the coast.
Watch this video overview from CBS News...