On August 24, 2014 the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Hurricane Marie, spinning off the west coast of Mexico, had become a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. With winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), Marie became the sixth strongest Pacific hurricane on record.
The system was first named as Tropical Depression Thirteen-E at 0300 UTC (8:00 pm PDT) on August 21 as it formed from a low pressure area about 315 mi (510 km) south of Acapulco, Mexico. By the next morning it had strengthened to tropical storm status, and quickly became a hurricane and was given the name Marie. It stayed at Category 1 strength – a relatively weak hurricane – until August 24, when the storm intensified quickly to peak strength.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of major Hurricane Marie at 2040 UTC (1:40 p.m. PDT) on August 24, just as it was nearing peak strength. The storm is impressively large, with a distinct eyewall with a clear circular eye. Despite its size, Marie sports a tight apostrophe shape, typical of strong storms. Outer storm bands brush the southwestern coast of Mexico, where the winds were kicking up strong and dangerous surf.
At 2100 UTC (2:00 p.m. PDT) that same day – just 20 minutes after this image was captured – the NHC reported that Marie’s maximum sustained winds were now blowing at 160 mph (260 km/h) and declared the storm had reached Category 5 strength. Hurricane Marie was located about 210 mi (335 km) south southwest of Socorro Island and about 500 mi (805 km) south southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. It was moving west at 14 mph (22 km/h).
By 0900 UTC (2:00 a.m. PDT) the next day, August 25, Marie’s winds were reported at 145 mph (230 km/h), making it a Category 4 Hurricane. It slowly continued to weaken. By 1500 UTC (8:00 a.m. PDT) on August 26, Marie had been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 km/h). NHC expects Marie to continue weakening and moving to the northwest, and to become a tropical storm by August 27.