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First eastern Pacific hurricane packs 140 mph winds

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“Amanda” weakening; not expected to pose major threat but may bring showery, unsettled weather to southwestern U.S.

If the first eastern Pacific hurricane of the season is any indication of what's in store this year, it could be a very interesting season which began May 15.

Possibly powered by warmer than usual waters, Amanda packed maximum winds of up to 140 mph early this (Monday) morning and was located some 680 miles south of the tip of southern Baja CA. The storm had an immensely low central barometric pressure of only 949 millibars at this time, making it a category 4 hurricane. Amanda formed on May 22 and exceeded forecasters expectations as to its strength and movement. The storm is relatively small as hurricanes go, with hurricane force winds only extending some 30 miles from its center.

Amanda's movement is slow, towards the north-northwest at 5 mph. Analysis of the storm by NOAA experts suggests that wind shear will significantly weaken it over the next 48 hours.

Upper level wind prognostics suggest that a southwesterly flow aloft in conjunction with an eastern Pacific trough may bring some remnants of the storm into the southwestern U.S. during the latter half of this week.

The net effect might be clouds, with scattered showers and thundershowers developing from south to north over portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and western Colorado.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has announced that a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season is likely for the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below normal season.

A patch of warmer than usual oceanic temperatures in the area near the southern tip of Baja may be a contributing factor to stronger than usual tropical storms and hurricanes in that region as the season progresses.

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