New Tropical Storm Forms in Pacific

Forecasters report that Tropical Storm Carlotta in the Pacific ocean is expected to become a hurricane by the time it reaches Mexico’s southern coast on Friday. The wind speeds of the tropical storm were at 64 miles per hour Thursday night. In order to be a hurricane, the wind must sustain winds of at 75 miles per hour so it’s close.

There is a hurricane warning already in effect for the Pacific coast of Mexico as the storm is now about 200 miles southeast of Puerto Angel and about 430 miles southeast of the very popular tourist city of Acapulco. The system is moving along on a northwesterly path at just over 12 miles per hour. Flooding is expected to occur Friday along Mexico’s coast as up to twelve inches of rain could fall.

The storm is the 3rd of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season which started on the 15th of May. In addition to the warning, hurricane watches are also in effect for areas in Mexico where the storm is headed. When Carlotta does come ashore, a foot or more of rain could fall over the states of Oaxaco, Guerrero and Chiapas and over portions of southern Guatemala.

Carlotta is expected to move along the southern coastline just south of Acapulco and pass north of Mexico’s largest oil refinery that pumps over 300,000 barrels of oil per day. The refinery is operating as usual and is not expected to be affected, although refinery officials are keeping a very close eye on the storm.

In Guatemala, the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction called for urgent action Thursday because it said that heavy rainfall amounts could damage bridges along the coastline. It also stated that the storm could trigger land and mudslides as well as cause widespread flash flooding. Heavy rains leave hundreds of people dead and causes billions of dollars in losses each year in Central America. During the month of May which is the beginning of the rainy season, two dozen people were killed as a result of floods, mudslides and landslides.

NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center says that it expects a below normal hurricane season in the Central Pacific basin this year. The Center also said that it is predicting two to four tropical cyclones in 2012. An average season has four to five storms which include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

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