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The third tropical depression of the season has formed about 250 miles south of Acapulco, Mexico. The depression has winds of 30kts. The center is currently quite broad and disorganised, but formative banding features are taking shape. A weakness in the ridge over Mexico is causing 03E to move to the north-northeast towards the coast. Some models predict that this motion will occur until 03E makes a landfall, others predict the ridge will restrengthen before this occurs, causing 03E to make a west-northwestward turn offshore. NHC are going with this scenario, but say that the landfall scenario is also a distinct possibility. 03E should strengthen as shear is low and waters very warm. Just how much strengthening 03E undergoes long term depends whether it remains over water.

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03E has become Tropical Storm Carlos, with winds of 50kts. The storm has a central dense overcast, a sign of a maturing storm. Some moderate shear is affecting Carlos, which should prevent the storm strengthening rapidly as it parallels the coast of Mexico. Carlos is still forecast to become a category 1 hurricane however, before weakening as it moves over colder waters south of Baja California in a few days time. Carlos is no longer thought to be at risk of making landfall on mainland Mexico.

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The Eastern Pacific hurricane season definitely has an active start, with already 3 named cyclones before midway June. This is just 2 days shy of the record set in 1956 and 1999, according to wunderground.

 

Regarding the cyclone itself, it appears to be suffering from northerly shear, with the center becoming partially exposed before new convection developed over the center again. Another signficant banding feature is apparent to the east of the storm itself.

 

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Visible satellite loop of Carlos (click to animate). Courtesy: NOAA.

 

Given that the cyclone is not going to move much over the next few days, upwelling of cool deep ocean waters may well start to be an inhibiting factor, like what happened to Blanca.

 

Sources:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3014

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

 

 

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Carlos became a hurricane with 75kt winds, but weakened back to 60kts as shear eroded Carlos, and the slow motion upwelled colder waters beneath the storm (much like what happened with Blanca). However, it looks like Carlos is developing and eye for the second time, so is likely to become a hurricane again soon. The track forecast has shifted to the east again, pointing towards a landfall again, progged to occur near Manzanillo. The track map below shows this, and the past slow motion of Carlos, accounting for some of the weakening. As Carlos is moving out of the cold wake, it is starting to restrengthen.

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Carlos has become a hurricane again, with winds of 65kts. Interestingly, the hurricane has shrank in size and is now a midget storm just off the coast. To the untrained eye, Carlos just looks like a very small cluster of thunderstorms!

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Tiny Carlos retains hurricane status with 65kt winds this morning. On satellite, the hurricane really is not much to look at! But a hurricane it is.

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The track forecast has shifted back west again this morning, and Carlos is now expected to remain offshore. As Carlos is so small, little affect is expected on Mexico.

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Tiny Carlos retains hurricane status with 65kt winds this morning. On satellite, the hurricane really is not much to look at! But a hurricane it is..

 

Yep, to the untrained eye this system does not look like much, only one blob of persistent convection :) .

 

However, CIMSS MIMIC imagery gives a better assessment of the true structure of the system:

 

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MIMIC TC imagery loop of hurricane Carlos (click to activate).

 

On the last few frames, a eyewall-like structure can be found on the eastern side of the center. This indicates that the cyclone is better organized than visible satellite imagery would suggest. It is a good thing to always look at multiple indices when assessing the structure and intensity of a tropical cyclone :wink:

Source:

http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/real-time/mimic-tc/2015_03E/webManager/mainpage.html

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Tiny Carlos is now the strongest it's ever been, with winds of 80kts. If you look closely you can actually see a small and pretty well defined eye:

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Carlos approched the coast and almost vanished within hours. By the time the NHC reacted and downgraded Carlos to a tropical depression, it wasn't even discernable on satellite imagery. An interesting little system!

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