Agatha is the first named storm in either the eastern Pacific or the Atlantic basins in 2022, heralding an urgent increase in tropical storm activity over the summer.
There is also a chance that the intensifying storm could become problematic in the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami estimate a 30 percent chance of a possible renovation.
Agate became a hurricane at 8 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday. A hurricane warning is in effect between Salina Cruz and Lagunas de Chacahua, Mexico, with hurricane clocks and tropical storm warnings containing chunks of the coast on both sides.
At 11 a.m., the Hurricane Center said the storm was “rapidly intensifying,” with its peak winds at 85 mph.
Agatha was located about 200 miles off the coast of Puerto Angel, Mexico, on Sunday morning, where conditions are favorable for the storm to intensify. The storm is raging over hot water – helping to feed the storm – and there is an absence of hostile super-level winds, according to the Hurricane Center.
The Hurricane Center predicts that the storm will make landfall Monday night with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph – or as a high-level Category 2 hurricane. The strongest winds will affect a small area of the coast east of the center when the storm comes ashore, where severe damage is possible.
Tropical storm-force winds, likely to cause less damage, could begin along the coast in the hurricane warning zone late on Sunday or early Monday. Tropical storm-strong winds extend about 80 miles from the center of the storm.
Agatha will also generate a large ocean rise, or storm-driven rise in water over normally dry land, which can flood coastal communities. The largest wave is expected near and just east of where the storm lands. Large and destructive waves will accompany the surge.
More care for inland areas, especially in the higher terrain, will be heavy rainfall. Widespread 10 to 16 inches of rain is forecast for Oaxaca, with localized amounts to 20 inches in the high ground. This could trigger landslides and flash floods, possibly isolating more rural communities. A general 5 to 10 inch with some 15-inch totals is likely in the state of Chiapas.
According to to Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, Agatha is the earliest hurricane in the eastern Pacific since 2015. Andrew also reached hurricane strength on May 29 of that year.
Agatha is likely to become only the third hurricane in the eastern Pacific to land in May. If it crosses the coast with maximum sustained winds of at least 100 mph (the current forecast is for 110 mph winds), it would become the strongest storm to hit land so early in the eastern Pacific season, wrote Jeff Mastersmeteorologist and hurricane specialist for Yale Climate Connections.
In the event that Agatha hits Mexico as a Category 3 major hurricane, it would be the first for May.
Possible golf renovation
It is very likely that Agatha will quickly decay after moving inland away from its ocean heat source earlier this week. It will discharge most of its moisture, no longer fed by heating from below. Until Tuesday, it will be a shell of his former self.
Later, the remnant of the storm’s turn could meander through Mexico and appear in the gulf, somewhere in the Gulf of Campeche, in the middle or last parts of this week. The National Hurricane Center estimates a 30 percent chance of renovation when a wide low pressure gathers again.
Water temperatures are mild enough to maintain an organization of low pressure; whether it is able to consolidate and organize is more about upper-atmospheric winds that could initially be hostile to development. They may relax a few on Thursday and Friday, perhaps allowing a small window of opportunity.
2 a.m. EDT May 29: A wide low-pressure area could form around mid-week over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico or northwestern Caribbean Sea. This system currently has a low chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next 5 days. More: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB. pic.twitter.com/EWUcxGcS2m
– National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) May 29, 2022
Residents along the Gulf Coast should check out this system.
Convention dictates that if Agatha’s central vortex remains intact when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, the storm would retain its name. This has happened before – Hurricane Otto moved from the Caribbean through Costa Rica and Nicaragua before appearing over the Pacific as a tropical storm in November 2016. It landed as a Category 3 but retained its name even after entering a new ocean basin.
If the vortex dissipated and a new low-pressure system evolved from Agatha’s remains, it would be named Alex and become the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
A hurricane season officially begins on June 1 in the Atlantic, and long-range forecasters sound the alarm for a forecast seventh straight above-average hurricane season.