Agatha, the first named storm of the eastern Pacific season, is expected to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane Monday and bring an “extremely dangerous storm surge and life-threatening winds” to southern Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm is expected to maintain its intensity through landfall on the southern coast of Mexico Monday afternoon or evening, then rapidly weaken over southeastern Mexico Tuesday, the center said.
Agatha became a hurricane Sunday morning.
It’s “way too early to tell what, if anything,” Hurricane Agatha means for the US, meteorologist Craig Setzer wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Right now we’re just going to be watching,” he said.
AccuWeather meteorologists noted they will be closely monitoring the “leftover energy” from Agatha as it crosses Mexico and enters the Bay of Campeche. “Here, there is a chance it could redevelop into the Atlantic basin’s first named storm,” the outlet reported.
The hurricane comes as federal forecasters expect yet another busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2022: As many as 10 hurricanes could form, meteorologists said last week. The Atlantic season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30; it peaks in August and September.
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Hurricane Agatha is the earliest first hurricane in the eastern North Pacific since 2015, said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, wrote on Twitter.
As of 10 pm CDT Sunday, the storm was about 140 miles southwest of Puerto Angel, Mexico, moving northeast at 6 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Maximum sustained winds were near 110 mph Sunday night. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 90 miles, the center said.
Storm surge is also expected to produce “extremely dangerous coastal flooding” and “large and destructive waves,” according to the center.
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President Joe Biden earlier this month pleaded with Americans to pay attention to hurricane warnings and follow the guidance of local officials.
“We know hurricanes are coming our way. They grow more extreme every season thus far,” Biden said during a press conference at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
He added: “Given the climate crisis … we expect another tough hurricane season. Storms are going to be more intense, and we’re going to have shorter notice, as we saw last year with Hurricane Ida.”
Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana last August, led to the deaths of nearly 90 people across eight US states, as well as additional later fatalities from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Contributing: Eve Chen, USA TODAY