While Atlantic tropical activity has diminished to a slight simmer for the time being after Claudette’s tour of the southeastern United States, waters over the eastern Pacific have spawned Tropical Storm Enrique. AccuWeather meteorologists predict Enrique will become the first hurricane of the 2021 season for either basin.
Enrique was upgraded to a tropical storm and the fifth named system in the eastern Pacific basin early Friday morning and further strengthening is anticipated into this weekend. As of 4 p.m. CDT Friday, Enrique had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts and was moving toward the west-northwest at 8 mph.
The eye of the storm was situated 225 miles south-southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico, and 350 miles south-southeast of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico.
The tropical cyclone will continue to move in a general west to northwest motion into next week and reside in an environment conducive for strengthening in the short-term, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Rob Miller said.
The northwest path will take the system over warm water and low wind shear. Tropical cyclones need warm water to allow towering thunderstorms to form. This rising air causes barometric pressure to fall. As air rushes in from the sides, the mass of storms around a system begins to spin faster and faster.
Wind shear is the sudden increase or change in direction of breezes at different levels of the atmosphere and across the horizontal part of the atmosphere. Even though some storms can strengthen despite strong wind shear, most struggle to develop or maintain strength. Weaker wind shear, on the other hand, can enable a storm to become better organized.
“Enrique should be able to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 74-95 mph, over the weekend,” Miller said. After that, the system could reach cooler waters that cause a reduction in wind intensity early next week.
“While most of the impacts from Enrique will remain offshore and over the open waters of the eastern Pacific, outer rain bands will brush the southwestern coast of Mexico into early next week and raise the risk of flash flooding,” Miller added.
Areas that have the greatest risk of localized flooding downpours and mudslides will extend from Acapulco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Part of this area was hit with up to 15.75 inches of rain and gusty winds from Tropical Storm Dolores last week. Dolores formed on June 18 and dissipated after moving inland on June 20 near the Michoacán and Colima state border of Mexico.
AccuWeather meteorologists are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season with 16-20 named storms, of which seven to 10 are forecast to become hurricanes. Thus far in 2021, there have been three tropical storms in the Atlantic basin.