I'm not sure why the folks at the National Hurricane Center weren't predicting it sooner. But now they are: Hurricane Felix, currently a Category 2 hurricane, is forecast to be a strong Category 4 in 48 hours. If this forecast is realized, Felix would become the 11th Category 4 or 5 storm in the world this year. (For a list of the others, see here.)
Frankly, I fully expect Felix to reach this strength, given the warmth of the Caribbean and the storm's already quick intensification since yesterday. And if I'm right, that means that just as with Hurricane Dean, the precise damage and death toll will depend heavily upon Felix's particular track. Dean caused considerable death and damage in the Caribbean and Mexico even though the storm seemed, at almost every point, to swerve away from the possibility of still greater destruction. Felix, however, could come in a bit south of where Dean struck, and that calls to mind the potential for a rainfall related disaster akin to the one caused by Hurricane Fifi in 1974. Fifi killed over 8,000 in Honduras. (Jeff Masters discusses possible parallels between Felix and Fifi here.) In order to help visualize more concretely the range of possibilities for Felix, let's consider the currently forecast track from a different perspective than usual -- by examining the outputs from the various computer models relied upon by the forecasters themselves (and conveniently provided by Weather Underground). As you can see, these models are all in relatively good agreement at the moment:
Felix Models Weather Underground Meanwhile, the bullseye of deep warm water that I mentioned yesterday doesn't look quite so much like a bullseye as before, but it's still lying directly across Felix's path:
Felix Bullseye NOAA Tropical Storm Henriette The emphasis on Felix has led to less attention to the Northeast Pacific, but a near-hurricane there could potentially affect the United States. Tropical Storm Henriette is forecast to be a hurricane soon and ultimately to reach Category 2 strength. Henriette is expected to strike the Baja California peninsula from the west, after which its rains could possibly impact the U.S. southwest as the storm moves inland. This is one to watch.
Meanwhile, there is yet another typhoon headed towards Japan, though it currently remains only a Category 1. For more information, see here.
From the Storm Pundit, you can expect regular updates on Felix -- and, as necessary, these other storms.
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