Hurricane Orlene weakened to a tropical storm a few hours after making landfall in Mexico on Monday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
With all eyes on the death and destruction wrought last week by Hurricane Ian, which was blamed Sunday for 83 deaths in Florida and four in North Carolina, Orlene seemed to sneak up on Mexico, where U.S. Embassy and consulate officials had warned Americans on the country’s Pacific coast to be prepared for what was expected to be a major hurricane.
But a few hours after Orlene made landfall in southwest Mexico on Monday morning, just north of the borders of the states of Nayarit and Sinaloa, it had weakened from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm.
On Monday afternoon, Orlene was spinning 60 miles east of Mazatlán, a city on the Pacific coast in the state of Sinaloa, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It was moving north-northeast at 10 mph, the advisory said.
The Mexican government discontinued all hurricane warnings and hurricane watches it had put in place for the country, as well as the tropical storm warning for south of San Blas, according to the hurricane center.
Tropical storm conditions were expected along part of the mainland western coast, from the municipality of San Blas to Bahia Tempehuaya, in the state of Sinaloa.
The storm reached Category 4 strength early Sunday, seemingly out of nowhere, with sustained winds of at least 130 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. By Monday afternoon, its maximum sustained winds had weakened to at least 50 mph, according to the center.
“Rapid weakening is expected through tonight, and Orlene is forecast to dissipate tonight or early Tuesday,” the hurricane center said.
The NHC said Orelene could bring between 6 inches and a foot of rain to parts of southwest Mexico through Tuesday, warning of potential flash flooding and possible landslides.
The U.S. hurricane center called Orlene’s swell “life-threatening,” according to a bulletin.
The states of Nayarit and Sinaloa could also be affected by torrential rain, wind, and waves of 3 to 5 meters high, Mexico’s weather agency, the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, said in a public notice on Monday morning. The state of Jalisco will also be affected by strong winds and could see waves of 2 to 3 meters high, while the coasts of Baja California Sur and Colima could see waves of 1 to 2 meters high, according to the weather agency.
In a tweet, Monday morning, the governor of Sinaloa said he was monitoring the storm and urged locals to follow official guidance.
Private wave forecaster Surfline suggested the storm, which over the weekend was pushing swells north and west, away from California’s coastline, could place some rare waves on the Gulf of California side of Baja California Sur.
Waves had been forecast for the weekend from Cabo San Lucas to San José del Cabo, but Surfline warned conditions could get chaotic and windswept as the storm got closer to the tip of Baja.
Hurricane season in the northern Pacific started May 15 and has been relatively active, as U.S. forecasters predicted, with as many as 20 named storms expected by the time the season ends Nov. 30.
Colorado State University meteorologist and hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach tweeted that the Atlantic season has also been “very busy,” with only five seasons since 1950 having shown greater “accumulated cyclone energy” in the latter half of September.
He cited the impacts of “warm pool strength” in the Atlantic, as well as the influence of the global weather phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña, which can have wide-ranging impacts depending on sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.
It is not clear whether climate change is a definitive actor in the tropical cyclone activity of the Atlantic and the Pacific this year, but experts have long said it will result in severe weather episodes that take place with greater frequency.