Thursday, September 18, 2014

Odile's Rain

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
5:54 pm

Hurricane Odile at peak intensity on 9/14/14 as a category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds and a central pressure near 922 mb. 

Cabo San Lucas is your typical Baha-Californian tropical paradise (technically it's subtropical, but subtropical paradise just sounds... not as good as a tropical paradise, and Cabo San Lucas is about as exquisite as paradises come, so it deserves to be recognized as such). It is known for its fishing (never been there, but I really wanna catch a marlin), balnearios (Latin American resort towns), and scuba diving locations. If I had to guess, I'd also say it's known for its margaritas and continuous Jimmy Buffett songs playing outside open-aired bars. Jimmy Buffett's had a pretty powerful influence in resort towns.

One thing that Cabo is NOT known for are its major hurricanes. However, a couple days back, they experienced just that. Hurricane Odile slammed into Cabo San Lucas as a category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds late Sunday, the strongest hurricane on record for the souhtern Baja Peninsula. That's as strong as Hurricane Katrina when it hit New Orleans.

Here's the track of the hurricane. Cabo is at the very southern tip of Baha California, which is on the Pacific side. As you can see, it experienced a direct hit from Odile. Odile started out as a tropical depression early September 10, as given by the blue triangles. Blue circles denote tropical storm strength, beige = category 1, light orange = category 2, darker orange = cat 3, and darkest orange = cat 4.

The track of Odile.

Odile caused a whole bunch of damage not just in Cabo, but the entire Baja Peninsula, and it degraded more slowly than your typical hurricane after encountering the mountainous terrain of Baja California.

Odile damage. Retrived from NASA.

Odile has now weakened to a "tropical rainstorm" with a central pressure of 1003 mb and sustained winds of 25 mph. However, don't let the pressure statistics fool you, as it is currently wreaking havoc on parts of the desert southwest. Chaparral, in Southern New Mexico, has already gotten over 3 ½ inches of rain, and amounts like these can be found throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico. Flash flood watches are in effect from southwest Arizona to southern New Mexico to extreme western Texas near El Paso for this event due to the heavy rainfall rates associated with the tropical low and embedded thunderstorms within it. Additionally, the topography of the area makes it even more prone to flash flooding, as the mountains simply act to collect all the rainfall into a valley and create a very fast-moving torrent of water... a flash flood. As if that wasn't enough, the dusty, arid landscape is not very conducive to absorbing rainfall, so any rain that does fall is more likely to end up in a stream instead of soaking into the soil.

As the below radar from the National Weather Service shows, the heaviest rainfall is currently centered over southwestern New Mexico. As the week goes on, this blob of rain will travel to the east, and places like central Texas will see some rain. However, as it does so, it will weaken, and places further east will receive less precipitation. This, combined with a change to flat topography and more grassy soils, should stamp out the flash flood threat in all but the heaviest thunderstorms.

Compliments to the NWS Doppler Radar National Mosaic

I start school on the 24th, so I have less than a week left of summer. I hope you can understand the lack of blogs, I've been too busy playing outside, trying to soak up these last precious moments of summer sunshine.


No comments:

Post a Comment