Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hurricane Paula rapidly intensifies

Hurricane Paula intensified suddenly with windspeeds jumping up to 100 MPH from 75 MPH earlier today. Paula is a very compact storm in very warm waters. This is creating the situation similar to an ice skater who pulls in her arms and speeds up in a fast spin.

The waters in this area of the Caribbean are very warm but to combination of Paula's interaction with land and the presence of an approaching front make further strengthening unlikely yet the tightness of Paula is overcoming these negative factors.

Hurricane Paula winding up in the Caribbean(Washington Post)
History has shown that small tropical cyclones under the right conditions are quite capable of intensifying rapidly. Paula, in fact, underwent a cycle of rapid intensification unprecedented in the record books, as Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters explained earlier today:

Paula intensified remarkably quickly, setting a modern record for the fastest intensification from the issuance of the first advisory to hurricane strength. The first advisory for Paula was issued at 5pm EDT yesterday, and Paula strengthened into a hurricane just twelve hours later, at 5am EDT this morning. Since reliable record keeping of intensification rates of Atlantic hurricanes began in 1970, when regular satellite coverage became available, no storm has ever intensified into a hurricane that quickly.
We will be watching Paula closely for any additional intensification.

Paula is expected to move slowly and somewhat erratically toward the Yucatan Channel over the next couple of days, as the steering currents remain weak. The official track forecast from the National Hurricane Center keeps the storm south of the Gulf of Mexico at or below Category 2 intensity.

Though Paula is situated over warm ocean waters capable of supporting a monster Category 5 storm, the atmosphere over this part of the world is, in general, not so hospitable. A band of strong westerly winds at high altitudes has settled across much of Gulf of Mexico and southwestern Atlantic. Partly associated with the annual southward shift of the jet stream during autumn, these winds exceed 60 mph in places.

Hurricane Paula is on course to brush against the Yucatan peniunsula and even cross near or over Cozumel and the hook to the northeast and strike the western tip of Cuba. From there, the track of Paula depends on whether the storm gets caught in the jet stream or not. If it does, then it will be pulled towards southern Florida, otherwise Paula will flounder around in the Caribbean for a bit longer.

Hurricane Paula is heading toward the western tip of Cuba(NOLA)
Hurricane Paula is headed toward the Yucatan Channel and extreme western Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Hurricane Paula is centered about 85 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and about 160 miles south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba, at latitude 19.6 north and longitude 86.0 west. It has maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and is moving north at 9 mph.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Mexico from Punta Gruesa north to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel, and for the province of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba.

Hurricane Paula is a small Category 2 storm, with hurricane-force winds extending out up to 15 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extending out up to 60 miles. The center of the storm is expected to reach the Yucatan Channel on Wednesday and be near or over western Cuba on Wednesday night or early Thursday.

2010 Atlantic Hurricanes (courtesy of

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Radar (courtesy of

NOAA West Atlantic & Caribbean Radar (courtesy of

NOAA East Atlantic Radar (courtesy of