Hurricane Jova Watch in Puerto Vallarta
Tonight we are all waiting to see how Hurricane Jova is going to play out here in Puerto Vallarta. Hurricane Jova was officially upgraded from a Tropical Storm last Saturday afternoon, and over the ensuing days accelerated steadily to Category 3 status. As late as yesterday, forecasters were anticipating that Hurricane Jova would make landfall tonight as a category 4 hurricane somewhere along Costalegre near Manzalnillo, Colima. Fortunately, rather than accelerating to Category 4 last night, Jova slowed down… It was still at Category 3 speeds this morning, but has slowed significantly in the last few hours and has currently (as of 1 pm Mexico City Time) dropped to category 2 and is still falling. Forecasters are expecting the wind speeds to drop to category 1 levels quickly after making landfall late tonight or early tomorrow with winds in the 120 km/h (75 mph) range.
If everything proceeds as forecast, we should see wind speeds here in Puerto Vallarta of about 65 km/h (40 mph) with heavy rains. Because the course of the storm is expected to go through the mountains east of Puerto Vallarta, the winds hitting Vallarta (due to the storm’s counter-clockwise rotation) will be from the east also, meaning there should not be any significant sea swell in Puerto Vallarta. It was the sea swell that caused the majority of the damage from Hurricane Kenna, the last hurricane to hit Puerto Vallarta back in 2002.
Historically, Puerto Vallarta has always been a safe haven from Hurricanes. Because of the geography surrounding Puerto Vallarta, Large storms either go to the north or to the south. The Banderas Bay’s shape provides protection from the large waves (known as sea swell) that precede hurricanes and the 3 separate mountain ranges that come together just above Puerto Vallarta act as an effective buffer to slow down and redirect the worst of any storm’s effects. Even the famous hurricane Kenna did not actually hit Puerto Vallarta… The center of that storm went onshore about 80 miles north in San Blas. Puerto Vallarta experienced high winds and heavy rains, but relatively little of the destructive force of a hurricane. The only real damage came from the sea swell, which caused fairly extensive damage in a small section of coastline. Before Hurricane Kenna, the last major Hurricane to hit Vallarta was some 80 years prior.
So tonight, all indications are that the storm will not cause any major damage here in Puerto Vallarta… we are making preparations anyway, and schools are suspending classes until Friday to be on the safe side, but we are expecting no more than some high winds and heavy rains. If you own a property here in Puerto Vallarta, I’ll be posting again tomorrow (assuming my internet is working!) with an update. BTW, if you can read Spanish, most of my forecast information comes from the Federal Electric Commission’s website, which I have found to be the most accurate and up to date when dealing with Hurricanes in Mexico. You can find their latest Hurricane advisories here.
While I am pleased that we will probably not experience any severe effects from Hurricane Jova, I don’t want to make light of the storm… it will probably come onshore at at least category 1 strength. Our prayers and best wishes go out to those living in costalegre and Manzanillo tonight.
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