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NASA sees Hurricane Paul 'eye' Mexico's Socorro Island, coastline

NASA's Aqua satellite captured a stunning image of Hurricane Paul in the eastern Pacific Ocean that revealed Mexico's Socorro Island was just outside of Paul's eye. Now, Paul is expected to track along the Baja California coast, triggering more warnings.

Hurricane Paul is stirring up rough seas in the eastern Pacific Ocean and warnings are posted along Baja California.

The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of Hurricane Paul off the west coast of Mexico on Oct. 15 at 1815 UTC (2:15 p.m. EDT). Socorro Island, Mexico, is the small outline northwest of the eye.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team

A hurricane warning is in effect for the west coast of Baja California from Santa Fe northward to Punta Abreojos. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the west coast of Baja California north of Punta Abreojos to El Pocito, south of Santa Fe to Agua Blanca, and on the east coast of Baja California from La Paz to Bahia San Juan Bautista. A tropical storm watch is also in effect for the west coast of Baja California North of El Pocito to Punta Eugenia.

Before Paul turned to mainland Mexico, the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image of Hurricane Paul off the west coast of Mexico on Oct. 15 at 1815 UTC (2:15 p.m. EDT). At that time, tiny Socorro Island, Mexico was just northwest of the eye.

Socorro Island is a small volcanic island and is one of the Revillagigedo Islands. It is located about 373 miles (600 kilometers) off Mexico's west coast and has an area of about 60 square miles (132 square kilometers). Socorro is being battered by hurricane-force winds and very rough surf.

On Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Paul's maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (175 kph). Paul is a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Paul's center was located near latitude 22.9 north and longitude 112.3 west. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Paul has accelerated and is now moving toward the north-northeast near 21 mph (33 kph). NHC forecasters expect Paul's center to make landfall this afternoon, Oct. 16. A turn to the north with a decrease in forward speed is expected on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Baja California can expect the same conditions that battered Socorro Island on Oct. 15: heavy rainfall, hurricane-force-winds, and rough surf. Rainfall between 2 and 4 inches with isolated amounts to 8 inches are expected, which can cause flash flooding and mudslides. Dangerous swells are expected to affect the Baja California coast for the next several days.

Hurricane Paul is forecast to track north over the coastline of Baja California over the next day before exiting back into the eastern Pacific on Oct. 17, just west of Central Desert Natural Park, Baja California.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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