Hurricane Cristina; Now A Category 4 Storm
Cristina, a hurricane in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, is now a Category 4 hurricane, with wind sustained at 150 mph (240 kph) as of 10:00 AM CDT Thursday. Hurricane Cristina strengthened rapidly and became the second storm this year to reach Category 3+ status. It is also the second strongest storm to form in the Eastern Pacific, this early in the season, only behind Hurricane Amanda, which reached a peak sustained wind of 155 mph (250 kph), earlier this year on May 25th.
Cristina underwent rapid intensification Wednesday into Thursday. During an 18 hour period, ending 10:00 AM CDT Thursday, Cristina's estimated central pressure dropped 51 millibars, and the maximum sustained winds had a 69 mph (111 kph) increase, going from a Category 1 storm, to a Category 4.
Hurricane Cristina may reach Category 5 status later today, and is expected to remain a major hurricane for the next two days. Fortunately, the wind field on this storm is small, and it does not pose any threat to land. Cristina's northwest movement will take it into cooler waters, and combined more wind shear aloft, by Monday morning; Cristina is expected to weaken to a tropical storm, and eventually a depression, by Tuesday.