Category 3 Hurricane John Threatens West Coast of Mexico

August 31, 2006

Although they infrequently touch land, the Pacific Ocean has hurricanes too, and John is a bad one. The storm is currently hugging the coast of Mexico. Its center was located near latitude 18.3 north/longitude 104.9 west or about 75 miles/120 kms southwest of Manzanillo, and about 150 miles/240 kms south-southeast of Cabo Corrientes, according to the most recent bulletin from Miami’s National Hurricane Center, issued at 11:00 p.m. PDT.

Maximum sustained winds are near 125 mph/205 km/hr with higher gusts, making John a “dangerous category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale,” said the NHC. “Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next 24 hours. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 60 miles/95 kms from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles/220 kms. Estimated minimum central pressure is 950 mb/28.05 inches.”

The storm is moving west-northwest at around 15 mph/24 km/hr, which is expected to continue during the next 24 hours. On this track John is expected to remain off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, but the storm is large enough that hurricane force winds and heavy rains can be expected to create damage along the coast. Some of Mexico’s most famous resorts are threatened, from Acapulco in the south all the way north to the Southern tip of Baja California.

A hurricane warning is in effect along the pacific coast of mainland Mexico from Lazaro Cardenas to San Blas and for the Islas Marias. A hurricane warning is also in effect for the Southern Baja Peninsula from La Paz southward on the east coast and from Santa Fe southward on the west coast. A tropical storm warning is in effect from San Blas to Mazatlan.

The NHC warned that rainfall amounts of 6 to 10 inches (15.24 to 25.4 cms) with isolated totals up to18 inches (45.72 cms) “are possible along the Mexican West Coast within the warning areas. These amounts could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides over areas of mountainous terrain.

“Coastal storm surge flooding of up to 5 feet [1.5 meters] above normal tide levels, along with large and dangerous battering waves, can be expected in areas of onshore flow near the path of the center of the hurricane.”

According to the NHC’s 5-day forecast, once John touches the tip of the Baja Peninsula it should veer off into the Pacific, and pose no further threat to any land areas.

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