NASA sees Marie become a major hurricane, causing dangerous surf

Aug 25, 2014
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Marie of the west coast of Mexico on Aug. 24 at 20:40 UTC (4:40 p.m. EDT). Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

The National Hurricane Center expected Marie to become a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) and it did. On August 24, when NASA's Aqua satellite passed overhead, Marie reached Category 4 hurricane status and maintained strength on August 25. Marie continues to cause dangerous surf along the west coast of Mexico.

The MODIS instrument (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite took a visible picture of Hurricane Marie as it reached Category 4 status off the of Mexico on August 24 at 20:40 UTC (4:40 p.m. EDT). The image showed an eye and good formation of a mature hurricane. Bands of thunderstorms spiraled into the center from the west and the south.

Forecaster Cangialosi of the National Hurricane Center noted on August 25, "Marie has an impressive concentric eyewall structure in recent microwave images. The inner eyewall surrounds the 15 nautical mile diameter circular eye, and the outer one extends about 40 to 50 nautical miles from the center."

The National Hurricane Center warns that swells generated by Marie are affecting the southwestern coast of Mexico. These swells will spread northwestward along the west coast of the Baja California peninsula and the southern Gulf of California during the next couple of days and are likely to cause extremely dangerous life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

On August 24, Marie's maximum sustained winds had increased to near 135 mph (215 kph) and the estimated minimum central pressure was 944 millibars. When NASA's Aqua satellite passed overhear Marie was centered near 16.1 north and 109.9 west. That's about 420 miles (675 km) west-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico.

At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 UTC) on August 25, Marie's maximum sustained winds had increased to 145 mph (230 kph), and the National Hurricane Center noted that some fluctuations in strength are possible. The center of Hurricane Marie was located near latitude 17.3 north and longitude 113.9 west. That's about 465 miles (750 km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. Marie was moving to the west-northwest near 12 mph (19 kph) and is expected to continue in that direction.

The National Hurricane Center expects Marie to weaken below major hurricane status by Tuesday, August 26 while still bringing dangerous surf to western Mexico and Baja California.

Explore further: NASA's infrared data shows newborn Tropical Storm Marie came together

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