Tropical Storm Agatha, the first named storm this year in the eastern Pacific, is hurtling toward the Mexican coast and has the potential to become a hurricane, triggering life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, the National Hurricane Center said on Saturday.
Agatha could make landfall on Monday as a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the Hurricane Center, said on Saturday.
Agatha was headed toward the largely rural Mexican state of Oaxaca and was expected to dissipate Wednesday morning. A hurricane watch was posted for the southern coast of Mexico, from Salina Cruz to Punta Maldonado.
Mr. Feltgen said storms originating in the eastern Pacific did not generally reach the United States as hurricanes. The same applies to Agatha, he said, though he added that if the storm “survives its trek across Mexico, then its remnants could emerge into the Gulf of Mexico.”
Agatha formed off the Mexican coast and was named on Saturday, not long after the official start of the eastern Pacific hurricane season, which runs from May 15 to Nov. 30.
The Atlantic hurricane season — the term used for storms that form in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean — runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Those regions account for the severest hurricanes that have struck the United States, Mr. Feltgen said.
This year is on track to be the first time since 2014 that a hurricane has not formed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season. However, the season generally does not peak until mid-August to late October, and forecasters predict above average Atlantic activity this year, with six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this week.
If the prediction comes true, this year will be the seventh consecutive above average hurricane season.
The causes for the predicted intensity of hurricanes cited by NOAA includes the climate pattern known as La Niña, which affects the speed and direction of wind, and a particularly intense West African monsoon season, which produces waves that can lead to powerful and long-lasting hurricanes.