Tropical Storm Kay eyes Mexico, southwestern U.S.

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While areas of heavy rain will continue in southwestern Mexico over the next few days, a greater concern is focused along the Baja Peninsula, especially in the elevated terrain, where the heaviest rain is forecast to fall. Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Sept. 5 (UPI) — With plenty of warm water at its disposal, as well as conducive atmospheric conditions, AccuWeather forecasters expect Kay to become the eighth storm of the season to reach hurricane status in the East Pacific basin.

While areas of heavy rain will continue in southwestern Mexico over the next few days, a greater concern is focused along the Baja Peninsula. It is along the Baja Peninsula, especially in the elevated terrain, where the heaviest rain is forecast to fall.

Widespread rainfall amounts of 4-8 inches are possible on the Baja Peninsula. Higher amounts of 8-12 inches can also occur for portions of the peninsula, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 20 inches.

In its 4 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Kay was about 250 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja, Mexico. It packed maximum sustained winds of 60 moh and was traveling west-northwest at 15 mph.

A storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds hit 74 mph.

As the system continues to organize and gain wind intensity, it is expected to be at its peak strength by midweek as it tracks toward the peninsula.

“Flooding rainfall will be possible on the Baja Peninsula as the storm approaches. Damaging winds may also occur, capable of causing damage to structures as well as downing trees and power lines,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert explained, adding that hazardous seas and even a storm surge would be possible.

The impacts received will depend on the exact track the storm will take. A track that is more toward the east will bring the storm onshore faster, bringing greater impacts to a relatively small area, but causing it to rapidly lose wind intensity over land. This would spare locations farther north. Should the storm track toward the western edge, some of the worst impacts will remain far enough offshore of the Baja Peninsula.

As is typically the case with tropical systems, impacts can also extend far from the storm’s center. In this case, tropical-storm-force winds will likely extend over 100 miles from the center at times.

Due to the potential for flooding rainfall and wind damage, Kay is a 2 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes in Mexico.

As the storm continues to track northward, cooler waters will quickly put an end to any strengthening, causing it to slowly lose wind intensity. However, should the storm remain offshore, but yet close enough for the coast to see impacts, heavy rain and gusty winds may even spread as far north as Southern California at the end of the week.

“The tropical system will be fighting off cooler waters and land interaction as it travels north toward the end of the week. Additionally, tropical systems have a tendency to curve away from the U.S. coastline over time. However, if the storm takes a very specific track, the door is open for impacts in California,” Kienzle said.

Regardless of how far north the storm remains organized, an increase in tropical moisture may overspread much of the southwestern United States by the upcoming weekend. This moisture can bring an increase in showers and thunderstorms for some and provide relief from the area’s ongoing heat wave.

While tropical moisture can lead to a heightened risk of flash flooding in low-lying areas, any rainfall would also put a dent in the ongoing drought that the region faces. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought conditions had engulfed the entirety of California and Nevada.

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