Hurricane Marie strengthened to a Category 5 storm

On Sunday, August 24 Hurricane Marie strengthened to a Category 5 storm, the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It became the 5th major hurricane of the very active 2014 Eastern Pacific season.

The entire season (which runs until November 30) averages less than 4 major hurricanes, so the average seasonal total has already been exceeded, despite it still being rather early in the season. Actually, there is one more storm that reached major storm status–Genevieve formed in the Eastern Pacific and was only classified as a tropical storm until it crossed 140 W longitude, but it gained strength in the Western Pacific and became Super Typhoon Genevieve.

While early numerical weather prediction models had Hurricane Marie generating significant rainfall over Southern California, it is now expected to move farther out to sea, with the main effects in California being large surf and an increased risk of rip currents. This image shows the wave swell height forecast by Wave Watch III, NOAA’s state-of-the-art numerical wave forecasting model. It shows swells of 3-4 meters reaching the outer waters of Southern California. Actual wave heights at the beach will depend upon the orientation of the beach and the underwater topography.