Hilary Becomes Category 4 Hurricane Near Mexico

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
September 26, 2011, 5:52:01 AM EDT

While Tropical Storm Ophelia is weakening, Hilary has become a powerful category 4 hurricane in the Pacific and may strengthen a bit further.

Recent satellite images showed Hilary developing a well-defined eye, a clear indication that the hurricane has strengthened.

The strengthening is due to the warm waters of the Eastern Pacific and a lack of wind shear (strong winds high in the atmosphere), which could allow further strengthening over the next 24 hours.

Fortunately, Hilary should remain 100 to 200 miles off the southern coast of mainland Mexico.

Such a track will keep the worst effects of Hilary offshore. However, bands of heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds will still graze the coastline, including Acapulco, into Saturday morning.

"But any deviation to the north could bring more dangerous weather to coastal areas," warned AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Randy Adkins.

Surf along the coast will also be extremely rough and dangerous for swimmers through this weekend.

Later this weekend into early next week, the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center expects Hilary to move out to sea into progressively cooler waters.


However, that may not lead to its total demise.

AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski states a trough of low pressure that will eventually head toward the western United States could cause Hilary to severely alter its course later in the period.

"Depending on how far south and east that trough progresses will determine if [Hilary] boomerangs back to the east, closer to the coast of Mexico later next week," stated Sosnowski.

"While rare, that re-curve back to the east would have dozens of ramifications, ranging from coastal impacts on Mexico to both beneficial rain and flooding problems in part of the southwestern U.S.," Sosnowski added.

AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Bill Deger contributed to the content of this story.

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