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Hurricane Barbara continues to roar in Eastern Pacific

Christian Fernsby |
Soon after becoming the Eastern Pacific's first major hurricane of the season, Barbara reached Category 4 status on Tuesday and teetered near Category 5 strength.

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On Monday, Barbara quickly became the first major hurricane of the 2019 season in the Eastern Pacific and is now a monster hurricane running loose over the open waters of the basin just 24 hours after it was a tropical storm.

Essentially, Tropical Storm Alvin, which was late to form as the first storm of the season in the East Pacific, helped to pave the way for Barbara and pull a plume of tropical moisture farther north from the equatorial region.

This created an ideal environment for a tropical storm to ramp up quickly through hurricane rankings.

Barbara came close to becoming the third earliest Category 5 hurricane to form in the Eastern Pacific during the satellite era, according to the National Hurricane Center. The earliest was Ava in 1973 and Celia in 2010. Ava became a Category 5 hurricane on June 7, and Celia strengthened into a Category 5 on June 25.

A Category 5 hurricane is the most powerful tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale.

Barbara's northwesterly track will bring the hurricane into progressively cooler waters well east of Hawaii through this weekend, leading to weakening.

"We believe that Barbara has peaked in strength and we expect Barbara to weaken to a tropical storm on Friday and then become a non-tropical storm this weekend," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Maximum sustained winds around Barbara's eye were estimated at 155 mph and just 2 mph below that of Category 5 strength early Wednesday morning local time. Since then, it is estimated that maximum winds have slipped to 140 mph, but that is still solidly a Category 4 hurricane.

Barbara is likely to remain a major hurricane, at least Category 3 strength, into part of Thursday.

Waters are warmer than average around Hawaii, but they are not be warm enough to sustain a tropical storm, let alone a hurricane at this point of the season.

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