While tropical storm Norbert is expected to to approach the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula on Thursday, dissipating well before it even reaches northern California, the effects of the storm may help California's drought situation. Here's five things you should know about this storm.
1. Most Pacific tropical systems have no potential impact, this one is different.
- The vast majority of East Pacific tropical storms form off the coast of Mainland Mexico and drift West out to sea before dying. This storm is moving North and could affect a good portion of Baja with big surf, strong winds and heavy rain. The leftovers could move into the Southwest bringing lots of rain potential for Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico.
2. Norbert's projected path has been traveled before.
- The closest storm that comes to mind with a similar path is Hurricane Nora in 1997. There have been others, but this one had the biggest impact. Nora was a cat 4 storm before it took a hard turn North. It remained fairly strong and finally entered Arizona as a Tropical Storm. It caused $100 million in damage and produced widespread flooding. Although Norbert doesn't look like Nora at all for strength, or exact path it's a reminder that every once in a blue moon these Pacific tropical storms can have a big impact in the Southwest.
3. Ocean temps are off the charts in Baja.
- Some satellite estimates put the water off Baja just a tad above 90 degrees, and record warm for this part of the world. This is high octane fuel for tropical storms and can create an environment ripe for very rapid intensification. As a side note, I was on vacation near Cabo San Lucas in July and all the locals and ex-pats were talking about how hot it was, and it hasn't been that way for as long as they can remember. Norbert in some ways, is moving into uncharted territory and the forecast path and intensity could see big jumps and changes.
4. The trend is stronger, not weaker.
- A few days ago, Norbert was looking like it would be a small, weak tropical storm that would move into Cabo and that would be it. The new path keeps it over warm water, giving it more time to strengthen and move to the North. Current estimates take it to Cat 2, but some forecasters see it going Cat 3.
5. It adds to our already very busy season.
- Most of the world has seen at or below average tropical activity except for the East Pacific. We are at 150% of average in the Pacific, and this storm could take that percentage much higher. It's also worth noting that we are also not at the peak of the season and there could be many more moving into October.