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Hurricane Paula (18L) Observed at Near Peak Intensity

19.7N 86.4W

October 18th, 2010 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Hurricane Paula (18L) - October 12th, 2010

Enhanced image

Hurricane Paula was active in the Caribbean Sea between October 11th and 15th, 2010.  This image shows the system near peak intensity on October 12th, just east of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Paula is one of only five Atlantic tropical cyclones to ever be given “P” name in the Atlantic basin (the others being Pablo in 1995, Peter in 2003, Philippe in 2005, and Paloma in 2008.)

The system began as a tropical wave that formed on October 5, just north of Panama, and developed an area of low pressure shortly afterwards.

The newly-formed surface trough of low pressure in the west-central Caribbean Sea continued to produce disorganized thunderstorms and scattered showers throughout October 7. Any development was expected to be slow to occur, and the nearly stationary system remained rather disorganized in appearance.

Environmental conditions gradually became more conducive as the broad low slowly drifted southward, and on October 9, satellite images indicated that the area had significantly increased within organization. That same day, the National Hurricane Center issued a high chance of tropical cyclone formation within the next two days while the system tracked northwestward southeast of Nicaragua.

Several days passed while associated shower and thunderstorm activity continued and changed little in organization, but the system retained its progressively defined structure nonetheless.

Further observations on October 11 showed an additional increase in definition, and subsequent data collection from an overflying Hurricane Hunter aircraft confirmed the formation of a tropical depression near the northeastern Honduran coast. The system continued to intensify rapidly, and the NHC issued the formation of Tropical Storm Paula later that day.

In the early hours of October 12, Paula intensified into a Category 1 hurricane becoming the ninth hurricane of the season. Paula continued to strengthen and was upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane later that day. It was forecast to become a major hurricane; however, the next day, Paula began to weaken and was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane.

On October 14, Paula was further downgraded to a tropical storm as it succumbed to the effects of wind shear, and it weakened to a tropical depression the next day. The remnants of Hurricane Paula continued to impact Cuba until it dissipated on October 16.