Just a few days after Tropical Storm Dolores made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast, a new tropical threat is building just to the southeast of where Dolores was first detected.
The 2021 East Pacific hurricane season has been close to normal so far in terms of activity level since it began on May 15. AccuWeather forecasters are predicting what could become the fifth tropical system of the season will take shape just offshore of Mexico by next week.
Meteorologists anticipate the system to form in a similar area to where Dolores formed and even impact some of the same locations Dolores inundated with heavy rain.
“There is a high chance for tropical development off the southern coast of Mexico later this week and weekend,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.
A tropical wave was producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms across an extended area that covers several hundred miles south of the coasts of Guatemala, El Salvador and southern Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Chances of development have been increasing through the early week.
“An area of low pressure is expected to develop Thursday or Friday and move along or just off the southern coast of Mexico through the weekend,” Miller said.
Miller said he suspects a depression could form as early as Thursday night and it could reach tropical storm strength by Friday night.
Landfall is also expected to be slightly farther southeast than where Dolores made landfall. This can occur as early as Saturday night, according to Miller.
|This graphic shows the storm tracks of the four named tropical systems in the East Pacific so far this season.
Atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for a tropical depression or storm.
“Waters were churned up a bit by Dolores, so they are not as warm as they were,” said Miler. Still, waters can be warm enough and wind shear is light enough that this system can ramp up to a tropical storm and possibly even a hurricane prior to landfall.
Wind shear is the change in the strength or direction of wind with increasing altitude or over a horizontal area above the Earth’s surface.
If this system does achieve hurricane status, it would be the first to reach that threshold in either the Atlantic or East Pacific basins in 2021.
|This satellite clip, captured early Wednesday, June 23, shows the tropical wave with the potential to strengthen into a tropical depression off the coast of Mexico. (CIRA/RAMMB)
“When wind shear is high or increases relative to a storm’s movement, it can cause the system to lean, like a poorly rooted tree,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. This leaning effect can also restrict strengthening under certain circumstances.
With light wind shear in this situation, conditions are favorable for a tropical system to strengthen.
“Locally flooding rainfall and strong winds will impact southern Mexico,” said Miller. A widespread 4-8 inches of rain can be anticipated along the southern coast of Mexico, with the highest amounts in the mountains just inland.
If this potential system strengthens into a tropical storm, its name will likely be Enrique, but even if this disturbance goes unnamed, it can still have dangerous impacts of heavy rain and high winds on the Mexican coast, which can be especially difficult for communities still recovering from Dolores.
“There are some models suggesting the storm just spins itself out off the southwest coast of Mexico this weekend,” said Miller. Either way, a “fountain of tropical moisture” will continue into early next week across southern Mexico, which will continue the flooding threat long after the system is gone.