Orlene quickly intensifies to Category 4 strength, set to strike Mexico

Early on Thursday morning, Hurricane Orlene, the 16th named storm of the East Pacific hurricane season, formed. According to AccuWeather experts, parts of Mexico should expect the storm to deliver heavy rain and strong gusts. Even the United States may eventually be exposed to Orlene’s moisture.

Orlene was a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph as of 6 a.m. MDT. Hurricane-force winds from Orlene’s center could be felt 10 miles out, while tropical-storm-force winds could be felt up to 60 miles away.

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Orlene was located 155 miles south of Las Islas Marias and 105 miles southwest of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. At 7 mph, it was heading north.

For Las Islas Marias and the coast of mainland Mexico from San Blas to Mazatlan, a hurricane warning was in force. For the Mexican mainland’s coasts from Playa Perula to San Blas and from Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya, a hurricane watch was in force.

Forecasters predict that Orlene will move closer to Mexico’s southwest coast over the next few days, hitting ashore Monday night. The ninth hurricane to hit the eastern Pacific this year is Orlene.

The effects on land started on Friday night as the outer rainbands of Orlene brushed the western Mexican coast. Over the weekend, the storm is expected to continue to have an impact on parts of western Mexico.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva, “Widespread 2-4 inches of rain will be probable in the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua.”

Orlene is a compact storm, therefore the areas directly in its path should see the storm’s strongest rain. Rainfall quantities of 4 to 8 inches are anticipated in south-central Sinaloa, as well as the region immediately south of Puerto Vallarta, with an AccuWeather Local StormMaxTM of 10 inches.

While rain is not uncommon in these parts of Mexico, Orlene can in some places dump nearly a month’s worth of rain in the space of just a few days. This amount of precipitation can immediately raise concerns about flash flooding and the possibility of mudslides in the higher terrain.

For instance, September normally sees slightly over 6.50 inches of rain in Mazatlán, Mexico. As Orlene arrives and tracks close to the region into the coming week, Matazlán is anticipated to receive widespread rainfall amounts of at least 2-4 inches.

As the storm turns toward the coast and starts to approach Mexico, the worst effects of Orlene are expected to hit the nation during the weekend.

Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph are anticipated to be widespread across parts of Durango, Nayarit, and Jalisco. Large swaths of Sinaloa and parts of Durango are predicted to experience gusts of wind between 60 and 80 mph.

Even a zone of gusts up to 80 to 100 mph along the coast is possible south of Mazatlan, Mexico. In the Islas Maras, where an AccuWeather Local StormMaxTM of 120 mph is likely, winds may even be higher.

Although Orlene is expected to be a major hurricane when it approaches the coast later this weekend, forecasters are worried that adverse environmental factors could cause the storm to lose some of its wind energy before making landfall on Monday. Though a greater storm cannot be ruled out, the storm is currently expected to approach the mainland at Category 1 strength.

On the AccuWeather RealImpactTM Scale for Hurricanes in Mexico, Orlene is rated a 1 due to the possibility of significant rainfall and damaging wind gusts.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the basin was Hurricane Kay, which caused considerable flooding in parts of the far southwestern U.S. and brought Mexico’s Baja Peninsula copious rainfall in early September.

Orlene is expected to follow a far different path than Kay, but over the next few days, some precipitation from the cyclone could make its way into the Southwestern states.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski issued a warning: “The trajectory of Orlene, once it nears Mexico will affect how much – if any – of its moisture, makes its way into the U.S.

According to forecasters, some of the moisture from Orlene will be able to enter parts of the Four Corners region as early as Sunday due to the wind direction at the middle levels of the atmosphere. If any thunderstorms manage to form in the area, this moisture may help to intensify any downpours. Any downpour can result in hazardous flash floods worries given the desert conditions.

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