Hurricane Blanca strengthens, moves toward Mexico (+video)
Hurricane Blanca gathered strength, with winds reaching 130 m.p.h. Saturday. A hurricane watch has been issued for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Hurricane Blanca strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane overnight with sustained maximum winds of 130 m.p.h. Saturday.
A hurricane watch has been issued by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Santa Fe, Mexico. Blanca's hurricane force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).
The National Weather Service Saturday morning reported:
Blanca is moving toward the northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h), but a turn toward the north-northwest is forecast by tonight. On the forecast track, the center of Blanca is expected to be near the southwest coast of Baja California Sur in the warning area late Sunday.
But computer models suggest that Blanca should begin to weaken tonight or early Sunday "when the hurricane encounters cool waters around 20 degrees North. The weakening should occur even faster as the cyclone approaches the west coast of the southern Baja California peninsula."
Still, Blanca is forecast to be at or near hurricane strength when it makes landfall late Sunday night. Hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch area Sunday and Sunday night.
The hurricane is expected to continue toward the northwest and then north-northwestward in Mexico and southwestern Texas.
Moisture associated with Blanca is moving northward and could help produce heavy rainfall over portions of southwestern Mexico during the next day or so, especially in areas of mountainous terrain.
The National Weather Service warns that Blanca is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 10 inches over much of Baja California Sur and the southern portion of the state of Baja California, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches of rain over Baja California Sur. These rains could produce life threatening flash floods and mudslides.
As of Saturday morning, a US Air Force reconnaissance plane was en route to check on the latest conditions within the hurricane.