Tuesday, 12 October 2010
A tropical disturbance in the western Caribbean gained enough organization yesterday afternoon to be declared Tropical Storm Paula. The tropical storm intensified quickly overnight and was upgraded to a minimal hurricane this morning.
Currently, maximum sustained winds are 75 mph and Hurricane Paula is moving slowly to the north-northwest at 10 mph. Some strengthening is expected over the next day or two as Paula moves over some very warm waters. However, a deep trough located over the central U.S. is moving eastward and will turn Paula to the north and east along with providing increased the wind shear. This shear is going to cause Paula to begin weakening over the next two to three days and beyond.
Thus, the official forecast calls for Hurricane Paula to weaken back to a tropical storm by the end of the week. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say exactly where this storm will go. It could hang around the northern Caribbean for a few days before the next series of troughs lift it northeast towards Cuba, south Florida or the Bahamas. On the other hand, Paula could dissipate completely — being ripped apart by the strong wind shear associated with the trough itself. I could also see Paula being lifted northeast quickly this weekend by the current trough, brushing south Florida as a tropical storm.
So yeah, the track forecast details beyond the end of this week are not clear by any means. But I don’t think residents in south Florida or even the Keys have much to worry about. Heavy rains may be their biggest concern should Paula track over those regions. The Gulf of Mexico is in the clear as the weather pattern favors continued troughs over the eastern U.S. for the next tens days and beyond.