Agatha, the first named storm of the eastern Pacific season, became a hurricane Sunday morning and was “rapidly intensifying,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm is expected to make landfall along the southern coast of Mexico on Monday and then “quickly weaken and dissipate as it crosses Mexico,” the center said.
It’s “way too early to tell what, if anything,” Hurricane Agatha means for the US, meteorologist Craig Setzer wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Right now we’re just going to be watching,” he said.
AccuWeather meteorologists noted they will be closely monitoring the “leftover energy” from Agatha as it crosses Mexico and enters the Bay of Campeche. “Here, there is a chance it could redevelop into the Atlantic basin’s first named storm,” the outlet reported.
The hurricane comes as federal forecasters expect yet another busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2022: As many as 10 hurricanes could form, meteorologists said last week. The Atlantic season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30; it peaks in August and September.
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Hurricane Agatha is the earliest first hurricane in the eastern North Pacific since 2015, said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, wrote on Twitter.
As of 10 am CDT Sunday, the storm was about 200 miles west-southwest of Puerto Angel, Mexico, moving toward the north-northwest at 2 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“A turn toward the northeast is expected later today, with a slow motion toward the northeast continuing through Monday night,” the National Hurricane Center said.
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Maximum sustained winds were near 85 mph and were expected to intensify until landfall Monday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 80 miles, the center said.
“Additional strengthening is expected during the next 12 to 24 hours and Agatha is forecast to be near major hurricane strength when it reaches the coast,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The National Hurricane Center warns Agatha is expected to produce heavy rains over portions of southern Mexico by late Sunday into Tuesday night, and hurricane conditions are expected Monday.
Storm surge is also expected to produce dangerous coastal flooding and “large and destructive waves,” with swells that are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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President Joe Biden earlier this month pleaded with Americans to pay attention to hurricane warnings and follow the guidance of local officials.
“We know hurricanes are coming our way. They grow more extreme every season thus far,” Biden said during a press conference at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
He added: “Given the climate crisis… we expect another tough hurricane season. Storms are going to be more intense, and we’re going to have shorter notice, as we saw last year with Hurricane Ida.”
Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana last August, led to the deaths of nearly 90 people across eight US states, as well as additional later fatalities from carbon monoxide poisoning.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism