Georgette Nears Mexico; Caribbean Thunderstorms Build

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Georgette moved over Mexico’s Gulf of California after it lost strength and was downgraded from a tropical storm, while thunderstorms over the southeast Caribbean Sea threatened to intensify into a cyclone.

Georgette, a tropical depression with winds of 55 kilometers (35 miles) an hour, was on a path toward mainland Mexico’s west coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on its website shortly before 7 a.m. Mexico City time. The storm was 55 kilometers east of Loreto in Baja California, heading north-northwest at 19 kph. It hit the Baja peninsula yesterday near the resort of Cabo San Lucas.

A tropical storm watch, indicating winds of at least 63 kph are possible within 12 hours to 24 hours, was issued for the coast from Huatabampito northward to Bahia Kino, and as much as 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain may cause “life-threatening” floods and mudslides in the south-central Baja peninsula and Sonora state, according to the center.

“Moisture from Georgette is expected to spread into portions of the southwestern United States during the next couple of days,” the center said.

In the south-central Caribbean Sea, a collection of showers and thunderstorms had a 60 percent chance of developing into a cyclone in the next two days, the center said in a separate advisory at 8 a.m. Miami time. That’s up from 50 percent three hours earlier. A tropical cyclone is a rotating storm that ranges in strength from a depression to a hurricane.

Dump Heavy Rain

“This system has the potential to become a tropical depression later today or tomorrow,” the center said. The weather system was located near the Windward Islands, and was moving west at 24 kph.

The system will likely bring squalls to the Netherlands Antilles and the northern coasts of Venezuela and Colombia today, the center said.

“The whole Caribbean is getting lit up with shower and thunderstorm activity,” Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist at Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, said yesterday. “This one bears watching.”

Energy traders sent natural gas futures up for the first time in three days yesterday as the probability of a cyclone in the Gulf of Mexico grew. Natural gas for October delivery gained 9.7 cents, or 2.5 percent, to settle at $3.919 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“If there is a storm in the Gulf this late in the season it’s going to be a game-changer,” said Peter Beutel, president of trading advisory company Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Connecticut. “It will catch a lot of traders that are not prepared for it.”

Cape Verde Islands

In the eastern Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lisa retained strength with sustained winds of 45 mph, the center said in another advisory at 5 a.m. Miami time. The storm was 725 kilometers west-northwest of the Cape Verde islands, moving east-northeast at 7 kph.

Lisa is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane, with winds of at least 119 kph, before weakening again to a storm during the next five days. The system isn’t yet a threat to land, according to the center.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at