Tropical Storm Barbra has developed in the eastern Pacific and will become a hurricane later today (Monday). TS Barbra is well south of Mexico (see Fig. 1), and currently has maximum sustained winds of 65mph (as of Monday morning) and is rapidly moving W at 21mph. The W to WNW motion is expected to continue thanks to a ridge to the north of the storm (see Fig. 2).
Barbara is expected to intensify over the next week. The storm is currently over anomalously warm waters (see Fig. 3) and will move into an environment with minimal environmental shear (see Fig. 4). This should allow Barbra to quickly intensify. The National Hurricane Center calls for Barbra to become a Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday (see Fig. 5) before a gradual weakening trend occurs.
The weakening trend will be gradual and Barbra is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves west towards Hawaii. It is still too early to determine if Barbra will impact Hawaii. Current guidance does indicate Barbra will be close to the islands in about two weeks. Latest European ensembles spaghetti plots indicate Barbra will track south of the big island (see Fig. 6).
However, a few members of the spaghetti plot do indicate a farther north track near the big island. Track uncertainty this far out makes it hard to forecast direct impacts on Hawaii but it is something that needs to be monitored closely. Steering patterns appear to guide Barbara towards the islands due to ridging north of the storm (see Fig. 7) , the environmental shear while not ideal will be low enough for Barbra to at least maintain Tropical Storm status (see Fig. 8) and sea-surface temperatures are anomalously warm near Hawaii (see Fig. 3).
Regardless of direct impacts, the islands can expect a gradual increase in wave heights by the end of the first week of July with significantly larger waves entering week 2 of July (see Fig. 9).
Whether impacts may eventually reach Hawaii after next weekend will depend on the storm’s exact track. Many uncertainties exist so keep checking back for updates.
Christopher Nunley is Meteorologist on Firsthand Weather, Lecturer in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University (MSU), and a PhD Candidate (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) at MSU. He earned his M.S. in Applied Meteorology at MSU, was an Assistant Cross Country Coach and taught at the University of North Texas, and was a Broadcast Meteorologist at KTEN-TV (just north of Dallas, Texas). Christopher’s main focus lies within teaching and inspiring prospective meteorology students, atmospheric research to further our understanding of atmospheric processes, and forecasting and analyzing extreme weather events to help save lives!