Hurricane Agatha is expected to continue to strengthen as it heads toward southern Mexico, where it’s expected to make landfall on Monday before potentially crossing into the Gulf of Mexico.
Agatha’s maximum sustained winds increased to 90 mph Sunday afternoon, up from 75 mph earlier in the day, making it a stronger Category 1 hurricane. After moving over southern Mexico, Agatha is expected to emerge in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Caribbean Sea, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said.
If Agatha or its remnants make it to the Gulf of Mexico, conditions could be favorable for further development.
The loop current, a body of warm water which begins between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba’s western tip, extends north into the Gulf of Mexico, and then southeast to the Florida Straits, is especially warm for this time of year. The loop current could supply fuel in the form of warm water for tropical system development.
“Agatha would have to cross over some pretty mountainous terrain in Mexico, so it may not survive clear into the Gulf,” said Robert Garcia, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “One of the things we’re going to have to keep an eye on is whatever leftovers there are of that storm, what could potentially come from that.
“But it’s so far out in time at this point it’s very difficult with any specificity to discuss it.”
A broad area of low pressure, which would be a remnant of Agatha, is expected to emerge the southwest Gulf of Mexico by the middle of the week and it could gradually develop and drift eastward toward South Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The system, which the hurricane center gives a 30% chance of development, is currently in the eastern Pacific and expected strengthen before hitting southeastern Mexico on Monday.
“For us in South Florida, it’s still kind of hard to know if there will be any impacts from any of the remnants and Agatha,” Garcia said.
He also said the more immediate thing to watch in South Florida is the weekend weather.
“That’s something folks should keep an eye on as they’re making their plans,” he said.
Rip current warnings are in effect for South Florida beaches this Memorial Day weekend, and afternoon rains and thunderstorms are expected through Monday.
Garcia said we’ll have to watch Agatha because we’re entering our unsettled summer pattern of weather.
“I would say that would be something to keep an eye on as we head into mid and late week, just to see what happens as the storm approaches on the Pacific side of Mexico,” he said. “It’s forecast to make a landfall there as a hurricane and then we’ll see how it emerges as it crosses Mexico.”