Despite forming several days ago and spending several days over the open waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, AccuWeather forecasters say the window for Tropical Storm Cristina to emerge as the first hurricane of 2020 in the Western Hemisphere is closing.
As of Friday morning, local time, the storm was located well away from land, about 345 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. It was moving to the west-northwest at a speed of 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds had increased to 70 mph. In order for the system to be dubbed a hurricane, maximum sustained winds must reach at least 74 mph.
Thus far, there have been three tropical storms and one tropical depression in the Eastern Pacific basin this year.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic has had six tropical storms, with the formation of Tropical Storm Fay on Thursday afternoon.
Neither basin has spawned a hurricane yet, and the potential for Cristina to become the first is dwindling.
"Based on recent satellite data, Cristina is not showing signs of intensifying," said AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
Cristina, which developed late Monday night, will begin to move into an area of cooler water by Friday evening, closing the window for any further development.
The skill level at predicting peak intensity of hurricanes is still in its infancy, even with the aid of satellites that can peer into the storm without sending in aircraft. There are many variables that can affect sensitive storms, such as hurricanes.
"During the weekend, Cristina is forecast to move into an area that is more hostile for its existence, and it should begin to weaken," Kottlowski said.
This storm is forecast to become a tropical storm then a tropical rainstorm into the beginning of next week as tracks generally to the west.
This forecast path will keep Cristina out to sea.
Winds generated by Cristina will cause waves to propagate outward from the center. These waves can create rough surf and strong rip currents along the coast of western Mexico, which will lessen as the storm moves away over the weekend.
Forecasters will be monitoring Cristina for potential impacts to Hawaii into the end of next week.
"At this time, moisture from Cristina is forecast to pass north of Hawaii during the latter part of next week," stated Kottlowski. "However, there is potential for this moisture to sink farther south, which could bring showers to the islands around this time next week."
There is another tropical disturbance drifting on the west-northwest path over the Eastern Pacific.
Disturbances will continue to move westward from Central America through the season.
There will be another disturbance that moves offshore from Central America in several days that will also have to be monitored for development from the weekend into early next week.
This disturbance does not appear to be a threat to Central America or Mexico at this time.
Once in a while, these features can hold together for thousands of miles or long enough to bring showers, thunderstorms and rough seas to Hawaii.
"The waters east of Hawaii are cooler than waters south and west of Central America, and this tends to cause most tropical systems to weaken and/or fall apart before reaching Hawaii," Kottlowski stated.
"Generally, we start to look for significant impacts by tropical systems on Hawaii around August or so, when waters have warmed up and less wind shear is present," he explained.
While it is too early to suggest that Cristina or some other system that moves off Central America in a few days will reach the waters near Hawaii, these systems will be monitored for track and longevity as July progresses.
As of Wednesday morning, another disturbance already located about 950 miles to the southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii is projected to move westward within an environment marginally favorable for tropical development.
"If this Central Pacific feature fails to develop by the end of the week, it will start to move into a more hostile environment," Kottlowski said. "Regardless of development, this system is projected to remain well south of Hawaii and therefore is no threat to the islands."
During July 2019, Hurricane Barbara passed about 120 miles south of Hawaii on July 8. In August 2019, Erick passed just south of the Big Island on Aug. 4 as a tropical storm, while Flossie passed just north of the islands as a depression on Aug. 6.