Hurricane Bud spinning off the west coast of Mexico.
Image: Colorado State

After a sluggish start to eastern Pacific hurricane season, the basin is making up for lost time. Hurricane Bud is the second of back-to-back major hurricanes to form in less than a week. The Category 3 storm is currently churning toward Baja California, though it’s thankfully forecast to weaken before likely landfall this weekend.

As of 3 a.m. local time this morning, Bud was still picking up steam roughly 235 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) put Bud’s winds at 115 mph, making it a Category 3 storm. That’s the threshold for classifying storms as major hurricanes. Meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted a more recent satellite image with data indicating Bud had reached Category 4 strength with winds around 132 mph.

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Either way, it’s quite a difference from how the storm looked yesterday. At 4 a.m. local time on Sunday, Bud had winds of just 50 mph, making it a moderate tropical storm . But just as Aletta before it, Bud underwent rapid intensification thanks to warm waters and low wind shear. Rapid intensification is a term used when a storm’s winds increase 65 mph in less than 24 hours.

The outer bands of Bud’s winds could reach Mexico, prompting the NHC to issue tropical storm watches from Manzanillo north to the Puerto Vallarta area. The agency also forecast that up to 10 inches of rain could fall in isolated locations on Tuesday and “cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.”

From there, Bud will continue to lumber northward. While the storm is expected to strengthen a bit more in the next day or two, it will then begin gradually decaying as it moves over cooler waters.

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It could reach Baja California near Los Cabos by Saturday as a tropical storm where floods and mudslides could again be a concern. From there, Bud or its remnants could push into the Southwest. While it’s too early to forecast what locations could be impacted or when they could get hit, it’s worth remembering that tropical systems can bring major flash flooding to the region, so keep an eye out as the forecast develops. The remnants of Hurricane Newton reached Arizona in September 2016, the last time a tropical system impacted the Southwest.

Eastern Pacific hurricane season began on May 15 without much fanfare. But the season has since gotten much more active. Bud follows Hurricane Aletta last week. That storm whipped up into a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, thankfully posing no threat to land. Aletta has since been downgraded to a tropical storm and is meandering westward into the Pacific as it weakens. No other storms appear to be on the horizon, but the next one that forms and attains a name will be Carlotta.