Pacific tropical storm now Hurricane Sandra

While Hurricane Sandra is expected to become a Category 4 storm, it is forecast to weaken before it hits Mexico.

While Hurricane Sandra is expected to become a Category 4 storm, it is forecast to weaken before it hits Mexico.

The National Hurricane Center reported Wednesday that the  late-season tropical storm that recently developed in the Eastern Pacific is now Hurricane Sandra and continues to intensify at a rapid pace. The hurricane now has a clearer eye in infrared satellite imagery that is completely surrounded by a white ring and the initial intensity is 100 kt, making Sandra a category 3 hurricane. There have now been 9 major hurricanes over the eastern North Pacific Ocean during the 2015 season, which is a record for that basin.

Some additional strengthening is anticipated since Sandra will be moving over sea surface temperatures between 29 and 30 degrees Celsius and within a low-shear environment for another 24 hours or so. However, it is hard to tell how much longer rapid intensification (RI) will last. The SHIPS RI index has fallen a bit since earlier today, but it still shows about a 50 percent chance of a 30-kt increase in winds over the next 24 hours.

After that the storm is expected to run into wind shear and undergo rapid weakening as Sandra approaches the Baja California peninsula and western mainland Mexico.

Although Sandra is forecast to weaken, it is too soon to know exactly how it will affect portions of the southern Baja California peninsula or the west coast of mainland Mexico. Since the forecast has slowed down a bit, a watch may not be required until tonight or on Thursday for portions of Mexico. Regardless, interests in those areas should continue to monitor the progress of Sandra.