An enhanced look at Hurricane Bud from space showing a defined central eye [AFP]
In the Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Bud is bearing down on Mexico.
The storm Bud briefly strengthened to a major category 3 hurricane in the early morning hours on Friday, but was downgraded to a category two in the next advisory.
With wind gusts reaching over 180 kph, Bud is forecast to continue its track today to the northeast and make landfall late Friday evening along the coast of Mexico’s Jalisco state.
Hurricane warnings remain in affect along the coast as far south as Manzanillo. Residents as well as tourists are being advised to prepare and seek their shelters by early Friday afternoon.
Bud is expected to slowly loose more of its strength as it continues toward the coast, but is still forecast to remain at least a category one hurricane before landfall.
Once making landfall the storm will weaken, but linger along the coastal regions, continuing to dump anywhere from 120 to 200 mm of rain in the next two days. This will raise the danger of flash flooding in this somewhat arid region.
Hurricane Bud is the first East Pacific hurricane of the 2012 season. Last October, Hurricane Jova made a similar approach to Jalisco, killing eight and injuring six people. Damage estimates from Jova are estimated to have reached 96 million dollars.
In the Atlantic, the official start to the 2012 hurricane season is one week away, but the warm waters have already produced its first tropical storm. Alberto remained off the mainland of the US and damage was limited to some beach erosion along the Carolina’s.
Eyes are now focusing on an area of disturbed weather over Cuba. Long range forecast models are indicating that this could turn into the second storm in the Atlantic and possibly make an approach to Savannah, Georgia.
In the next few days, heavy rain will continue across central Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Bahamas with localised flooding expected.