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Monday, October 19, 2009

Hurricane Rick weakens almost as quickly as it strengthened

Hurricane Rick quickly surged in strength this past weekend from a tropical storm all the way to a category 5 monster with sustained winds peaking out at 180 mph. This made Rick the strongest storm in the eastern Pacific since Linda in 1997. This is very unusual in that meteorologists generally feel that conditions do not usually exist to allow such a storm to form, but occasionally it will as we saw this weekend.

As the weekend went on, Rick slowly decreased in strength becoming a category 4 storm on Sunday and dropping down to a Cat 2 storm this afternoon. Cool sea temperatures are the key driving force in reducing Rick's fury. Further reduction is expected to continue as Rick approaches the southern tip of Baja California.

Hurricane Rick weakens further as it approaches Baja California Sur (LA Times)
Hurricane Rick continues to weaken as it approaches the Cabo San Lucas area at the tip of Baja California. The National Hurricane Centerat 2 p.m. Monday issued an advisory stating that maximum sustained winds are down to about 100 mph and that Rick is now a Category 2 hurricane.

The storm is located 325 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas and its predicted course has changed since the morning forecast. The center of the storm is now expected to merely skirt Cabo San Lucas, perhaps sparing the region major damage, as it travels toward the northeast in the direction of mainland Mexico. It will pass Cabo San Lucas as a tropical storm late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Rick's storm track continues to shift southward indicating that this storm may just graze teh southern tip of the peninsula or pass south of Cabo San Lucas missing the resort with its strongest winds.

Unfortunately, as the hurricane began its approach, Rick already claimed one victim.

Pacific Hurricane Rick weakens, blamed in death (Associated Press)
MEXICO CITY — Hurricane Rick was more than a day away from the resorts of Baja California on Monday but the 13-foot (4-meter) waves it kicked up have already killed one person in Los Cabos, which lies almost directly in the hurricane's forecast path.

Francisco Cota, the Los Cabos civil defense director, said a 38-year-old man was standing on a rocky point fishing when he was swept away by one of the big waves Sunday. Bystanders went to help the man, but by the time they got him out of the water he was dead.

"We have established patrols on the beaches to keep people from going into the sea," Cota said. Storm shelters were being opened at local schools and patrol vehicles were making the rounds of low-lying neighborhoods with loudspeakers urging people to evacuate.

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