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Posted at 05:30 PM ET, 06/20/2011

Pacific tropical storm Beatriz nearing hurricane strength, Mexican coast

Projected track of tropical storm Beatriz. Region under hurricane hurricane warning shaded in red, tropical storm warning in blue. (National Hurricane Center)
The eastern Pacific’s second named storm, Beatriz, has strengthened to near hurricane strength this afternoon. With maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, Beatriz need only add four mph to reach hurricane status. The tropical storm, 90 miles southwest of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico is moving north-northeast at 8 mph. Hurricane warnings have been posted from Zihuatenejo to Cabo Corrientes along the Mexican coast, and tropical storms warnings are in effect from Tecpan de Galeana westward to east of Zihuatanejo. Cabo Corrientes is the cape upon which the resort city Puerto Vallarta sits.

The storm is projected to make its closet approach to the coast tonight or early Tuesday. The most significant impact is likely to be torrential rains, flash flooding and the resultant mudslides. Up to 6-12 inches of rain is projected by the National Hurricane Center along the coasts of the states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Colima, and Michoacan with isolated amounts to 20 inches in the mountainous terrain.

Infrared satellite image of tropical storm Beatriz

In addition to the rain, storm surge flooding along with “large and destructive” waves are possible within the hurricane warning area.

Although the storm’s strongest winds of potentially hurricane force are likely to remain offshore, the probability of at least tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or higher ranges from 50-90 percent in the warned area.

The current intensity forecast strengthens Beatriz’ maximum sustained winds to 90 mph by 2 p.m tomorrow. The storm currently sits over favorable very warm water of around 85 degrees. In addition, wind shear - which is hostile to storms - is light. However, gradual weakening is forecast to commence Wednesday once the storm moves over cooler water in the open Pacific.

By  |  05:30 PM ET, 06/20/2011

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