Rick weakens further but still a dangerous hurricane

posted Jul 11, 2012, 9:30 PM by Tom Kachelman   [ updated Jul 11, 2012, 9:31 PM ]
Government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Watch for southern Baja California from Santa Fe southward on the West Coast and from San Evaristo southward on the East Coast including Cabo San Lucas. At 200 am PDT/0900 UTC the center of Hurricane Rick was located near latitude 17.5 north longitude 111.1 west or about 380 miles/615 km south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas Mexico. Rick is moving toward the northwest near 10 mph/17 km/hr. A turn toward the north with a decrease in forward speed is expected during the next day or so Rick is then forecast to accelerate toward the north-northeast and northeast by late Tuesday and early Wednesday. On the forecast track the center of the hurricane will be nearing southern Baja California by late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 125 mph/205 km/hr with higher gusts. Rick is a category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Although additional weakening is forecast during the next day or so Rick is still expected to be a dangerous hurricane as it approaches the southern Baja Peninsula. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 60 miles/95 km from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles/280 km.

Large swells generated by Rick will continue to affect portions of the southern Baja California coast and the west central coast of Mexico during the next couple of days causing potentially dangerous surf conditions. As Rick moves through a less conducive environment the cloud pattern has degraded further with the eye now difficult to discern in infrared satellite images. Water vapor imagery suggest that drier air is intruding from the west into the circulation. An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate Rick later today and should provide a good estimate of the strength of the hurricane. Even though additional weakening is likely during the next 48 hours or so the environment is not expected to become so hostile as to weaken Rick below hurricane status by the time it moves near or over southern Baja California. Since Rick could move a little faster than expected and the current and predicted extent of tropical storm force winds is somewhat uncertain a Hurricane Watch has been issued for extreme southern Baja California at this time.