Hurricane Norma, though downgraded to a Category 3 storm, poses a significant threat as it bears down on Mexico’s Pacific coast. In this article, we’ll explore the latest updates on Norma’s trajectory, potential damages, and safety measures.
Norma’s Downgrade to Category 3
As of 2100 GMT on Thursday, Hurricane Norma was reclassified as a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, as reported by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). This scale categorizes hurricanes on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe. While it’s not a Category 4 or 5, Category 3 is still considered a dangerous hurricane.
Norma’s Current Location and Intensity
At the time of the downgrade, Norma was situated approximately 265 miles (425 kilometers) west of Manzanillo, a city in the western Mexican state of Colima. The storm carried winds exceeding 125 miles (205 kilometers) per hour, along with even stronger gusts. With its forward motion heading northward towards the Baja California peninsula at a speed of about six miles per hour, Norma remains a significant weather event.
The NHC anticipates some weakening in Norma’s intensity over the next few days. However, the storm is expected to maintain hurricane status as it approaches the southern portion of Baja California by Friday night and Saturday. Norma could potentially make landfall in San Jose del Cabo in Baja California Sur as a Category 1 hurricane. There is also the likelihood of it affecting Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa overnight on Sunday.
Preparedness and Response
Given the potential impact on the Baja California peninsula, the Mexican government has activated its national emergency plan. Over 6,600 soldiers are on high alert in the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur.
The focus is primarily on the cities of San Quintin, Mulege, and La Paz. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador emphasized the need for swift action, including the deployment of assistance teams and the distribution of food supplies.
Potential for Flash Flooding
The NHC warns of significant rainfall associated with Norma, with expected totals ranging from 5 to 10 inches through Sunday across the southern portion of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. Localized areas could experience up to 15 inches of rain. These heavy rains carry the risk of flash floods, urban flooding, and possible mudslides in higher terrain.
Ocean Swells and Safety
In addition to heavy rainfall, the NHC alerts to life-threatening surf and rip current conditions caused by ocean swells. These conditions make coastal areas particularly hazardous.
The Conagua National Water Commission is closely monitoring water levels in rivers, streams, and dams, as several are already near capacity.
Mexico’s Hurricane Season
Mexico is no stranger to hurricanes, which typically occur between May and November on both its Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Recently, Hurricane Lidia, a Category 4 storm, struck the country’s west, resulting in at least two fatalities and flooding. Prior to that, Tropical Storm Max caused two deaths and extensive flooding in the southern state of Guerrero.
Climate Change and Storms
Scientists have repeatedly emphasized that storms are growing more potent and frequent due to climate change. The warming of our planet continues to affect the intensity of these natural disasters.
In conclusion, while Hurricane Norma has been downgraded, it still carries significant risks and should not be underestimated. It’s crucial for residents and authorities to stay vigilant, prepare for heavy rainfall, and heed safety precautions to mitigate the storm’s impact on Mexico’s Pacific coast.