Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog

Dangerous Category 3 Odile Bearing Down on Baja

Posted: 10:43 PM GMT on September 14, 2014

Dangerous Category 3 Hurricane Odile is bearing down on Mexico's Baja Peninsula as the storm steams north-northwestwards at 14 mph towards the southwestern tip of Baja. Odile is likely to be the strongest or second strongest hurricane on record to affect Southern Baja. An Air Force hurricane hunter plane was in Odile Sunday afternoon, and measured top surface winds of 125 mph, with a surface pressure of 922 mb. This pressure puts Odile in pretty select company--only two other Eastern Pacific hurricanes have had lower pressures measured in them by the Hurricane Hunters--though a total of eleven Eastern Pacific hurricanes have had lower pressures, if we include satellite-estimated pressures. The only major hurricane on record to affect Southern Baja was Hurricane Kiko of 1989, which moved ashore on the Gulf of California side of the peninsula just south of La Paz as a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds.

Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Odile off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, taken at approximately 2 pm EDT Sunday September 14, 2014. At the time, Odile was a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Figure 2. Radar image of Hurricane Odile taken at 4:46 EDT Sunday, September 14, 2014. Image credit: Conagua.

Odile put on an impressive burst of rapid intensification Saturday night, going from a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds to a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds in just 24 hours. Satellite loops show that Odile has a large eye and impressive area of very intense eyewall thunderstorms. The eyewall of Odile is likely to pass over or just to the west of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula just before midnight PDT Sunday night. The 2 pm PDT Sunday NHC Wind Probability Forecast gave Cabo San Lucas on the southwestern tip of the Baja Peninsula a 99% chance of seeing tropical storm-force winds of 39+ mph, and a 84% chance of hurricane-force winds. These odds were 99% and 47%, respectively for San Jose del Cabo, about 30 miles farther to the northeast.

Figure 3. Tracks of all Category 2 and stronger hurricanes to pass within 75 miles of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula (light circle) between 1949 - 2013. Only one major hurricane--Hurricane Kiko of 1989--hit Baja during this time span. Data taken from NOAA/CSC's Historical Hurricane Tracks website.

Mexican radar
Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa livecam in Cabo San Lucas

Jeff Masters
About This Author:
Jeff Masters co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. at Michigan. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.


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