By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 7,2017, 12:05:51PM,EDT
The earliest tropical depression on record in the eastern Pacific Ocean may develop this week and could impact communities from southern Mexico to Central America.A tropical depression may form as early as late Monday, but is more likely on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Hurricane season in the eastern Pacific Basin starts on May 15, but the development of the basin’s first tropical depression has never occurred before May 12 since reliable record keeping began in 1966.
Alma, which would eventually become a hurricane, set the record for the earliest tropical depression when it developed on May 12, 1990.
“With water temperatures off of western Central America above normal and relatively low wind shear, conditions will be conducive for tropical development this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis said.
Exactly where the depression takes shape will determine where it will track and which communities will have to brace for potential impacts.
“The system could form far enough to the east to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to western Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said. "Or it could develop farther to the west and target Mexico from Acapulco eastward."
“If the latter scenario unfolds, we might not just see the first depression of the season, but also the first hurricane.”
Impacts to Mexico would likely not occur until later in the week or weekend.
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The danger of damaging winds and an inundating storm surge will increase as the tropical system strengthens. In either scenario, flooding rain will endanger lives and property.
The development of this tropical system will kick off what AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski states will be “at least a normal to slightly above-normal season” in the eastern Pacific.
“This prediction does not include storms that will develop in the central Pacific Ocean, including in the Hawaii area," he explained.
An average season in the eastern Pacific Ocean yields 15 named tropical storms and eight hurricanes, four of which become major hurricanes.
“There are also one to two tropical impacts on the United States from the eastern Pacific during an average year,” Kottlowski said. “This would mainly be in the form of flooding rain affecting the region from Southern California to Texas."