Hurricane Vance Becomes Category 2

Hurricane Vance continues to strengthen over the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico. It became a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Sunday evening with winds of 105 mph.

Vance earlier became a Category 1 hurricane Sunday morning, making it the 14th hurricane of 2014 within the Eastern Pacific basin. (Genevieve, which started in the Eastern Pacific, became a hurricane in the Central Pacific basin — if one counts Genevieve, there have been 15 hurricanes with Eastern Pacific origins this year.)

Hurricane Vance is tracking to the northwest, remaining well off the Mexican Pacific coast.

However, Vance is expected to take a northeast turn toward the southwest Mexican coast during the week, as a mid-level ridge near the southern Baja California peninsula shifts eastward and a trough approaches.

Vance may peak as a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane Monday. If so, it would be the ninth major hurricane of 2014 in the Eastern Pacific (10 if one counts Genevieve).

However, increasing wind shear after the system makes the northeast turn is likely to weaken Vance, so it may make landfall as a tropical storm, depression, or even remnant low in the week ahead. All these important details remain to be determined at this early stage.

Those along the southwest Mexican coast and the southern Baja Peninsula, including Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan should monitor the progress of this system for possible impacts this week. Given Vance’s increasingly powerful winds, it’s very likely that swells from Vance will churn up high surf and rip currents at Mexico’s Pacific beaches, even if the storm itself loses steam before reaching land. The potentially dangerous conditions for swimmers may reach parts of Mexico’s coast as early as Monday.

Vance is the 20th named storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season. The last time 20 or more named storms formed in that basin was 1992, when the entire list of 24 names was used, ending with Tropical Storm Zeke.

Zeke is also the “Z” storm on this year’s list. Eastern Pacific names rotate every six years unless retired, except for names starting with X, Y, and Z. Those are rarely used, and thus just two names are on the list for each of those letters, one male and one female, alternating every other year.

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