A NASA satellite captured an image of Hurricane Bud on May 23, while still a tropical storm.
Even though the center of the storm was still many miles out at sea, the outer edges of the rotating storm are already reaching Mexico's coast.
The storm first began over the eastern Pacific Ocean on May 20, about 525 miles (845 km) south of Acapulco, Mexico. Two days later, on May 22, it had strengthened to a tropical storm — and was given the name Bud. The storm continued to strengthen, and the following day, it had attained hurricane status.
Rotating storms that churn up over warm, tropical waters are known as tropical cyclones — an umbrella term that covers three categories of storms that are divided up by wind speed.
What's in a name?
A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds no greater than 38 mph (61 kph).
A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with top winds between 39 and 73 mph (63 and 117 kph); a storm is named when it reaches this strength.
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph). A hurricane is classified as a major hurricane once it reaches Category 3 status — a storm with top winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).
With the birth of Hurricane Bud, the eastern Pacific hurricane season, which officially began on May 15, is off and running. Federal authorities recently issued the outlook for the 2012 hurricane season in the Atlantic, which calls for a near-normal season.
Although it officially begins June 1, the Atlantic has already seen its first tropical cyclone of the year. Tropical Storm Alberto spun up on May 19.