13 October 2010

Category 2 Hurricane Paula stalling in Yucatan Straights...

Aircraft recon into Paula on Tuesday afternoon found much stronger winds than expected, and it was immediately upgraded to an 85kt CAT2 hurricane with a central pressure of 981mb.  Since then, it has has changed very little... at 15Z today the intensity is 85kts/984mb.  Though the forecast is for gradual weakening in the face of increasing vertical shear, a short-term temporary increase is possible based on satellite imagery.  There is another recon plane en route to the storm as I type this, so in a couple of hours we will know better what the exact intensity is.  It's a rather small storm, so changes (either increases or decreases) can happen dramatically.

Looking at the long radar loop available at http://einstein.atmos.colostate.edu/~mcnoldy/tropics/paula10/Paula_12-13Oct10.gif, you can see that the motion has slowed down quite a bit, and is now drifting to the NE at roughly 3kts.  The forecast track is for continued slow motion, and turning to the E, then dissipating over the mountains of Cuba.  However, there is large model guidance spread, and anything from completely stalling in the Yucatan Straights for a few days to getting picked up by the trough and heading NE over Cuba/Florida/Bahamas is within the realm of possibilities.  If you are in any of those areas, you can keep up to date on the latest watches and warnings at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at3+shtml/144014.shtml?5day#contents

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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