Tropical Storm Carlotta strengthened into a hurricane this Friday morning as it inched closer toward southern Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Carlotta, which first formed as a tropical depression late Wednesday night about 515 miles, south-southeast of Puerto Angel, Mexico, is currently about 120 miles off the country’s coast and is moving to the northwest with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the center of the storm should move near or over the coast late tonight or early tomorrow and Carlotta may become a Category 2 storm as it nears land.
“Carlotta appears to be undergoing rapid intensification and is likely to continue until the center (of the storm) moves near or over the Mexican coast in 18 hours or so,” the NHC posted at 11am EST.
The agency forecasts a dangerous storm surge and as much as 12 inches of rain that may cause flash-floods and mudslides in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
As a result, the Mexican government has issued hurricane watches and warnings (which means that hurricane conditions are expected) from Punta Maldonado to Acapulco, and a watch (which means that hurricane conditions are possible) is in effect from Acapulco to Tecpan De Galeana.
Carlotta is the first hurricane and the third named storm of the 2012 Pacific hurricane season.
The Weather Channel has more on Hurricane Carlotta and its projected path in the video below: