Hurricane Darby churns across East Pacific

Hurricane Darby churns across East Pacific

The fourth tropical storm to earn a name in the East Pacific basin spun to life on Saturday and exploded into a powerful major hurricane over the open waters of the basin for a time earlier this week. AccuWeather forecasters say Hurricane Darby is particularly impressive to behold as the tropical cyclone's journey thus far has led to stunning weather imagery.

The hurricane underwent rapid intensification late Sunday, and by Monday afternoon, Darby was a Category 4 major hurricane (sustained wind speeds of 130-156 mph or 209-251 km/h). Rapid intensification is defined as an increase in the maximum sustained wind speed of a tropical cyclone by at least 35 mph (55 km/h) in a 24-hour period, according to the (National Hurricane Center).

In this AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue™ Satellite loop, Hurricane Darby churns over the Pacific as a Category 4 major hurricane on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

As of 5 a.m. HST Wednesday, Darby had sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h), classifying it as a Category 2 Hurricane. The swirling tropical feature was located 1,335 miles (2,150 km) east of Hilo, Hawaii, according to the NHC. Darby was moving toward the west at 16 mph (26 km/h).

Darby initially formed Saturday afternoon well offshore of the southwestern coast of Mexico as a tropical storm (sustained wind speeds of 39-73 mph or 63-118 km/h). As the storm tracked westward through the weekend, it encountered atmospheric conditions that were primed for further tropical development including elevated water temperatures and very low wind shear.

Darby took advantage of the opportunity to strengthen and reached Category 1 hurricane status (sustained wind speeds of 74-95 mph or 119-153 km/h) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale on Sunday night. The hurricane then exploded in strength in the following hours as it roared over the open waters of the Pacific.

In this AccuWeather RealVue™ Satellite image, Hurricane Darby displays a clear eye well to the southeast of Hawaii on July 12, 2022. (AccuWeather)

"Hurricane Darby displayed an impressive round of rapid intensification Sunday night into Monday morning, exhibiting a near-symmetric shape on satellite imagery," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham explained.


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"Because of Darby's relatively small size, this storm was able to quickly take advantage of favorable environmental conditions," Buckingham added.

In less than 24 hours from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning, Darby surged from a 65-mph (105-km/h) tropical storm to a 120-mph (193-km/h) Category 3 major hurricane.

Darby is the second major hurricane of the season overall across both the Atlantic and East Pacific basins.

Late Sunday night into early Monday morning, the hurricane had begun to show signs of developing an eye, as shown by satellite imagery. Darby's eye became very pronounced on Monday. A clearly-defined eye in a hurricane is typically an indicator of a very powerful storm.

Darby is not expected to track near any land masses at its full strength. In fact, forecasters say Darby is not expected to directly impact any land at hurricane or tropical storm intensity as the cyclone will weaken while taking a path across the East Pacific and enters the Central Pacific basin this week.

Darby will encounter atmospheric conditions more hostile to tropical cyclones as it moves farther west toward Hawaii this week.

"Darby is expected to dissipate prior to its approach of the Hawaiian Islands," Buckingham said. "At this point in time, the most notable impacts across the Hawaiian Islands will likely be increased swells, especially along any eastern facing beaches."

Moisture from Darby will likely push across Hawaii this weekend and enhance some rainfall in the area. At that time the system is likely to be a tropical depression or rainstorm. Localized flash flooding concerns may develop for a time in areas caught under the heaviest downpours or persistent rounds of rainfall, especially on the Big Island.

While Darby is the fourth tropical cyclone to earn a name in the East Pacific this season, it is the fifth named storm overall to track through the basin.

Earlier this month, Hurricane Bonnie achieved an impressive feat when the cyclone crossed from the Atlantic basin into the East Pacific. The hurricane kept the name Bonnie as it crossed basins and was not given a name from the predetermined East Pacific list.

Bonnie was the first major hurricane of the season overall across the Atlantic and East Pacific basins.

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