Hurricane Barbara approaches maximum category in the Pacific

Hurricane Bárbara gains strength and is close to reaching Category 5 as it moves west-northwest across the Pacific away from the mainland.

Tropical Storm Barbara forms off the coast of Mexico. Image: Conagua
Tropical Storm Barbara forms off the coast of Mexico. Image: Conagua

Hurricane Bárbara quickly gathered strength on Tuesday and is about to reach Category 5 as it moves west-northwest over the Pacific and away from the mainland.

Barbara has maximum sustained winds of 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph), just below the Category 5 threshold of 252 kph (157 mph), said the National Hurricane Center of the United States.

The vortex of the storm is located about 1,895 kilometers (1,175 miles) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Peninsula of Baja California, Mexico, and advances to 22 kilometers per hour (14 mph) in a west-northwest direction.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm is not expected to become much stronger over the course of the night and predicted that it will begin to weaken as of Wednesday afternoon.

Barbara is the second tropical cyclone of the Pacific hurricane season, which began last week with Alvin, who reached category 1 but lost strength soon.

The agency reported that the formation of 19 cyclones in the Pacific Ocean is expected for this season, eleven of which may become hurricanes and, of these, six will have a category of between 3 and 5.

It is worth mentioning that in the Atlantic Ocean up to 14 cyclones will be formed: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Imelda, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, and Néstor. Eight of these weather phenomena will become a hurricane.

It was in the month of May when specialists warned that the intensity and number of these phenomena would increase due to factors such as climate change and the low intensity of El Niño.

Christian Domínguez Sarmiento, the researcher at the Center for Atmospheric Sciences (CCA), considered that the main causes of disasters during this season are poor risk management and the lack of response capacity of the authorities.

It will be in the months of July, August, and September when we see these phenomena increase in the Pacific, and the same will happen in the Atlantic in the months of August, September, and October.The location of Mexico between two ocean basins causes it to be impacted by tropical cyclones every year on both sides.

Some of the cyclones that are expected for the season of this 2019 already have a name. This is the case of "Alvin", like the one that is already being presented, "Bárbara", "Cosme" and "Delilah" for the Pacific, and "Andrea", "Barry", "Chantal" and "Dorian" in the Atlantic.

The categories in which the cyclones are classified (3, 4 and 5) are determined according to the wind speed, with category 5 being the most intense, with winds at speeds between 250 and 300 kilometers per hour.

The risk of disaster doubles in Mexico due to the poor response capacity and lack of effective protocols by the authorities. Added to this, it can be said that the most vulnerable population is that of low resources that inhabit the coasts.

As background and examples of this problem, it is enough to remember that between 200 and 2006 Mexico lost around 425 billion pesos due to natural disasters, of which at least 60% was due to tropical cyclones, according to figures of the National Center for Disaster Prevention.

"The fact that there are disasters is associated with poor risk management since we do not have an integrated response capability." Emitting the alert to the population is very slow, because three days before we know the trajectory of a cyclone and where it will touch land, but the evacuation is 6 or 12 hours before," said Domínguez Sarmiento.

In 2013, two tropical cyclones hit Mexico simultaneously on both sides, "Ingrid" in the Atlantic and "Manuel" in the Pacific, causing great damage with 150 deaths and economic losses that amounted to 57 thousand 387.5 million pesos.

By Mexicanist

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