EPAC Makes Up for Slow Start With 10 Storms in Last Seven Weeks
While the Atlantic got off to a fast start with four named storms including a hurricane by the end of June, the Eastern Pacific was unusually quiet. Despite starting its season on May 15th, the EPAC only had one depression over the first month and a half of the season, and didn’t have its first named storm until July 2nd.
However, over the past seven weeks, the Eastern Pacific basin has made up for lost time with 10 named storms including five hurricanes. Of those five hurricanes, three of them became major hurricanes: Blas, Darby, and Georgette. So far this season, the Eastern Pacific has had 11 depressions, 10 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
The latest storm to develop is Tropical Storm Kay, which has strengthened a little in the past 24 hours to have winds of 50 miles per hour. Kay is located about 140 miles to the West-Northwest of Socorro Island, or 310 miles to the Southwest of the Southern tip of Baja California.
Kay is not expected to strengthen over the next couple days. Last year, the Eastern Pacific was very active with 22 depressions, 18 named storms, 13 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The strongest storm of the season was Hurricane Patricia, which grew to be the most intense storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere with maximum winds of 200 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 879 millibars, or 25.96 inches of Hg.
Part of the reason for the sluggish start to 2016 in the Eastern Pacific was the dissipation of the latest El Niño episode earlier this year. When there is an El Niño, the Eastern Pacific waters are warmer than normal, and with tropical storms and hurricanes needing at least 80 degree sea surface temperatures to grow and flourish, the decay of the latest El Niño hindered development of storms.
A weak La Niña is anticipated as we move into the latter portion of 2016, and that means cooler than normal waters are expected in the Eastern Pacific, which is not conducive for tropical development. Meanwhile, conditions in the Atlantic are expected to pick up with less activity in the Eastern Pacific to produce upper level wind shear.
Category Five Sets Record for Strongest Storm in Eastern Pacific
While conditions in the Atlantic have quieted down to some extent in the three weeks or so since Hurricane Joaquin, the Eastern Pacific keeps rolling along. In the last week, there have been two more named storms: Olaf and Patricia. Both have since become major hurricanes with Olaf moving into the Central Pacific zone while Patricia was grown into a monster storm of historic proportions.
Within the past 12 to 18 hours, Patricia has increased in strength significantly. Already a Category Five storm with 160 mile per hour winds as of last night, the powerful hurricane has continued to intensify in the ENSO enhanced warm waters of the Eastern Pacific. As of 8:00 AM EDT this morning, the storm had sustained winds increased to 200 miles per hour with gusts up to 245 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars, or 25.99 inches of Hg.
Those recent developments with Patricia made it not only the strongest storm ever in the Eastern Pacific basin, but the strongest hurricane on record surpassing the mark of Hurricane Wilma (882 millibars). Only Typhoon Tip in the Pacific is a stronger storm with 870 millibars of pressure, or approximately 25.69 inches of Hg (Mercury). Tip was a powerful typhoon that roamed the Western Pacific during the period of October 4th to October 24th in 1979. The storm hit its peak intensity with 190 mph winds on October 12th of that year, and ultimately affected Guam, Caroline Islands, Japan, and Russia.
Returning to Patricia, a Hurricane Warning is in effect from San Blas to Punta San Telmo on the West Mexican Coast. A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning are in effect from east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas. Currently, the storm is located some 145 miles Southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, or about 215 miles South of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. The storm could strengthen a bit more before making landfall this afternoon or early evening in the warning area. Sustained winds could be as high as 205 miles per hour.
This storm will not end at the coast either. It will bring its abundant tropical moisture inland, where it will interact with the higher terrain of interior Mexico. As a result, tremendous condensation will take place, and torrential rains will occur producing devastating floods and mudslides. Total rainfall accumulations could at least be anywhere from 8 to 12 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 20 inches. Along the coast, the impacts of the storm will be greatest with Category Five strength winds accompanied by dangerous waves and surge. The Mexican government indicates that waves as high as 39 feet could impact the warned area.
What is left of Patricia may even have an impact on weather in the United States. Models had been indicating over the past several days of a significant rainfall event for Texas and even Louisiana. Low pressure has been developing in the Gulf of Mexico, and that is expected to join forces with Patricia’s remnants to bring significant rainfall to Texas, which has been dealing with a terrible drought. However, this rainfall may be too much for even the drought stricken Lone Star State, and produce flooding there. With the development of Olaf and Patricia over the last week or two, there have been 20 depressions, 16 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 8 major hurricanes.
Goni, Kilo, and Soudelor Top Another Big Season of Typhoons
Last night, Hurricaneville reported on Kilo crossing the International Date Line on Tuesday, and becoming another Typhoon for the Western Pacific. Kilo appears to be on course to be the longest lasting tropical cyclone of 2015 although it will fall far short of the record set by Typhoon John back in 1994. Kilo is one of many noteworthy typhoons that have traversed the Western Pacific this summer. Soudelor and Goni are two other storms that left significant impacts in Taiwan and Japan respectively.
Those aforementioned storms are just the tip of the iceberg for this year’s typhoon season in the Western Pacific though. According to Wikipedia, there have been a total of 24 depressions, 18 named storms, 11 typhoons, and 6 super typhoons. The Super Typhoons in 2015 include: Maysak (Chedeng), Noul, Dolphin, Soudelor (Hanna), and Atsani. In addition, there were four powerful typhoons of Category Four stregth named Higos, Chan-hom (Falcon), Nangka, Goni (Ineng). The first system formed right after the start of the new year on January 2nd. A total of 135 deaths and $5.1 billion in damage around the Pacific Rim have been attributed to these storms. Here are capsules on the more notable storms in the WESTPAC:
Higos was a Category Four typhoon with a peak intensity of 940 millibars, or about 27.76 inches of Hg, and winds of 105 miles per hour. The storm lasted for just under a week from February 6th to February 12th. At its peak, Higos became the strongest typhoon recorded during the month of February since 1970. The storm weakened just as rapidly as it had to become a powerful typhoon. Higos didn’t impact land.
Typhoon Maysak (Chendeng)
Forming originally to the southwest of the Marshall islands of March 26th, Maysak lasted nearly two weeks, and had a minimum central pressure of 910 millibars, or 26.87 inches of Hg and maximum 10 minute sustained winds of 120 miles per hour at peak intensity. One minute maximum sustained winds topped 155 miles per hour. Maysak moved through portions of Micronesia where it caused extensive damage. Initial reports indicated that five people had lost their lives in the storm.
Typhoon Noul (Dodong)
Noul was the 2nd Super Typhoon of 2015. Forming on May 2nd near Micronesia, the storm lasted for approximately 10 days. At peak intensity, minimum central pressure with Noul was 920 millibars, or 27.17 inches of Hg while 10-minute maximum sustained winds were 125 miles per hour. The storm underwent some fluctuations in intensity before rapidly deepening in a Super Typhoon on May 10th. Noul eventually made landfall over Pananapan Point, Santa Ana, Cagayan in the Northeastern tip of Luzon in the Philippines. The storm began to weaken afterwards.
Dolphin was the third Super Typhoon of the season, and the second straight. Forming southeast of Pohnpei, Dolphin would linger in the Western Pacific basin for two weeks from May 6th to May 20th. Reaching peak intensity on May 16th, Dolphin’s minimum central pressure dipped to 925 millibars, or 27.32 inches of Hg while its 10 minute maximum sustained winds topped out at 115 miles per hour. Dolphin sustained Super Typhoon intensity for 30 hours. Fortunately, the storm recurved well east of Japan and Russia.
Typhoon Chan-hom (Falcon)
Forming in the final days of June near the island of Kosrae, Chan-hom reached Category Four strength on July 9th with 935 millibars, or 27.61 inches of Hg minimum central pressure, and 105 mile per hour 10-minute maximum sustained winds. The typhoon lasted for about 15 days before weakening after going through an eyewall replacement cycle, and coming ashore southeast of Shanghai in China. The weakened storm also traveled into the Korean Peninsula before transitioning into an extratropical cyclone. Chan-hom was responsible for just under a billion dollars in damage in East China while indirectly contributing to the deaths of 4 people and $90,000 in damages in the Philippines.
Another powerful typhoon that lasted over two weeks in the Western Pacific, Nangka formed on the 2nd day of July. At peak intensity on July 9th, Nangka with a minimum central pressure of 925 millibars, or 27.32 inches of Hg, ten minute maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour, and a one minute maximum sustained wind of 155 miles per hour. The storm had some fluctuations in intensity from July 9th to July 12th when Nangka reached its secondary peak as a Category Three strength typhoon. The typhoon then made two landfalls in Japan on July 16th. The first one was over Muroto, Kochi while the second landfall was hours later over the island of Honshu.
Forming on July 29th, and lasting some two weeks before dissipating, Soudelor has been the most powerful storm to date in the WEST PAC, strengthening to Super Typhoon status with a pressure that dropped down to 26.58 inches of Hg, or 900 millibars on August 4th, making the storm an equivalent of a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
Soudelor’s highest 10 minute sustained winds were 130 miles per hour while its one minute sustained wind topped out at 180 miles per hour. The storm’s path took it through the Philippines, Taiwan, Mariana Islands, Japan, East China, and South Korea. The storm left behind damage that has been initially estimated at $3.2 billion while causing 38 deaths.
Typhoon Goni (Ineng)
A fierce storm that was documented going through the southern portion of Japan by iCyclone, Goni first formed to the southeast of Guam on August 13th, and lasted for a dozen days as it first headed westward toward the northern Philippines before turning to the north just to the east of Taiwan, and coming through Southern Japan before going between the rest of Japan and the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan.
At peak intensity, Goni had a minimum central pressure of 935 millibars, or 27.61 inches of Hg with 10 minute maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. The storm underwent rapid intensification prior to becoming a Category Four storm the first time. Then, Goni underwent some fluctuations in strength before reaching Southern Japan as a Category Four storm again. See video of Goni impacting Southern Japan at iCyclone.com
Forming around the same time as Goni (actually a day later), Atsani took a path to the north and east before recurving well to the East of Japan. The storm lasted just under a dozen days and peaked on August 19th with a minimum central pressure of 27.32 inches of Hg or 925 millibars with a 10 minute maximum sustained wind of 115 miles per hour and a one minute maximum sustained wind of 160 miles per hour. Wind shear and dry air entrainment doomed the storm soon after that.
Kilo actually originated in the Central Pacific where it peaked as a Category Four Hurricane with 145 mile per hour winds as it trekked past Hawaii. Moving past the International Date Line on Tuesday, Kilo became a Category One Typhoon with 85 mile per hour winds. The storm is expected to strengthen to Category Four intensity as it approaches Japan around September 15th. The storm is expected to become the longest lasting tropical cyclone this year, but fall short of the duration mark set by Typhoon John in 1994. See more details on Kilo in the blog at http://www.hurricaneville.com/blog/?p=1530.
Normally, the Western Pacific is the most active basin in the tropics with the most intense storms as well, but with the emergence of El Niño, more storms are forming in the Eastern and Central Pacific, and in the case of Kilo, crossing the International Date Line into the Western Pacific as Typhoons.
Central Pacific Hurricane Crosses International Date Line
Things continue to be active in the Pacific, especially in the Eastern and Central basins. We now have four tropical systems from the West Coast of Mexico to beyond the International Date Line. First, in the Eastern Pacific, the 11th named storm of the season formed as Kevin emerged within the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, in the Central Pacific, Hurricane Kilo, which had been one of three Category Four Hurricanes in the Pacific earlier this week, crossed the International Date Line, and, as a result, became a Typhoon.
Although it is rare, hurricanes that form in the Eastern and Central Pacific have traveled far enough over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean to cross the International Date Line, and become a typhoon, which is the name given to tropical systems in the Western Pacific. The most memorable example was Hurricane/Typhoon John in 1994. The storm began in the Eastern Pacific, and spent some 31 days, an entire month traversing the Pacific Ocean. While Kilo’s feat is quite impressive, and will probably make it the longest lasting tropical cyclone this year, it will likely fall about a week short of John’s mark.
As of Wednesday, Kilo had weakened to a strong Category One Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 85 mile per hour winds. The much cooler waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands in the Central Pacific took the starch out of Kilo, which had been a major hurricane over the weekend. However, as Kilo heads into the high octane warm waters of the Western Pacific, the storm is forecast to undergo a major rejuvenation, and return to Category Four strength and become a Super Typhoon. Some model forecasts indicate that Kilo could become a threat to Japan by next weekend according to an article written by the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
On Tuesday, satellite imagery depicted the western half of Kilo in the Western Pacific, and classified as a typhoon on September 2nd while the eastern half was still on September 1st and a hurricane. Looking at the future of Kilo, the GFS produced a scenario where Kilo will pass through Japan into the North Pacific by September 15th, and then move into Alaska, where it become a powerful extratropical system that will create a dip in the jet stream, and push eastward into the continental United States. The Western Pacific has been active as well as the Eastern and Central Pacific this year as a result of the El Nino.
The WESTPAC has seen more than its fare share of typhoons including Souledor recently, which created havoc in Taiwan including tornadoes. Meanwhile, Typhoon Goni lashed portions of Japan with fierce winds. Sometimes, these typhoons recurve much like hurricanes that come up the East Coast of the United States. As they recurve, they gain new life as an extratropical system that can pull down the jet stream and much colder air from the arctic and Alaska. There were a couple of occasions this past winter when typhoons in the West Pacific recurved into the North Pacific, and spawned a “polar vortex” episode for the Continental United States.
Ignacio Joins Kilo in Central Pacific While Jimena Strengthens to Cat 4
While the Atlantic is beginning to rev up just in time for the peak of the season, the Eastern Pacific continues to roll out storms over the past week, the EPAC created two big storms in Hurricane Ignacio and Hurricane Jimena. With the emergence of an El Nino that has rivaled the ENSO episode of 1997, activity in the Eastern Pacific has picked up with 13 depressions, 10 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes.
Ignacio and Jimena have been heavy hitters being the most recent of the major hurricanes in the basin. Ignacio, now in the Central Pacific, and causing Tropical Storm Watches to be issued for Hawaii, currently is a major hurricane with 115 mile per hour winds with gusts up to 140 mph. Minimum central pressure was 961 millibars, or 28.35 inches of Hg. Jimena is closing in on Category Five strength with 145 mile per hour sustained winds with gusts up to 175 mph. Minimum central pressure of 940 millibars, or 27.73 inches of Hg.
Before moving into the Central Pacific, Ignacio strengthened to become a Category One Hurricane with 90 mile per hour winds. Ignacio didn’t stop there as it gradually continued to strengthen up and until Saturday morning when it reached major hurricane strength with minimal Category Three strength winds. Later on Saturday morning, Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into Ignacio and found it to be much stronger with 140 mph winds, and a minimum central pressure of 951 millibars, or 28.08 inches of Hg.
Ignacio had some fluctuations in strength over the next 12 hours before peaking at 145 mph with a minimum central pressure of 942 millibars, or 27.82 inches of Hg. Since then the powerful storm has gradually weakened as it encounters cooler waters near Hawaii. Meanwhile, Jimena has put on quite a show in the Eastern Pacific. Satellite imagery has produced classic photos of Jimena’s pinhole eye. Jimena was on the cusp of becoming a Category Five Hurricane with 150 mile per hour winds on Saturday morning, but weakened a bit to minimal Category Four strength with 130 mile per hour winds before rejuvenating on Sunday.
When powerful storms such as Jimena climb into the high end of the Saffir-Simpson Scale with 140 to 150 mph winds, they tend to re-organize with eyewall replacement cycles, which causes some weakening. Jimena probably went through a bit of that on Saturday and early Sunday. According to the 2:00 PM HST Forecast Discussion, the National Hurricane Center indicates that Jimena could strengthen to 155 mile per hour winds within 12 hours. So, it will be very close to becoming a Cat Five storm if it doesn’t break that threshold. This storm is also headed in the direction of Hawaii, which has had several tropical threats this summer including a Category Three storm in Hurricane Kilo.
Danny’s Development and Erika’s Emergence Sparks Atlantic Basin out of August Doldrums
Up until about a week ago, the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season had many similarities to the 1997 season. Back then, the world’s climate was in the midst of the strongest El Nino on record, and the Atlantic Basin was feeling the impact. After a decent start to the 1997 season that had four named storms by the end of July including hurricanes Bill and Danny, the season had an unexpected calm during a time when the season was supposed to be peaking.
In a rare occurrence, the Atlantic Basin had no named storms or hurricanes for the entire month of August 1997. By contrast, the Eastern Pacific was pumping out storms left and right, and many of them including hurricanes Guillermo, Ignacio, Jimena, Linda, Nora, and Rick. Guillermo and Linda grew to be very powerful and even threatened to impact Southern California, a region that has not been affected by a tropical cyclone since 1939. In the end, the Eastern Pacific ended up with 19 depressions, 17 named storms, and 9 hurricanes.
By contrast, the Atlantic in 1997 was very tranquil with only 9 depressions, 8 named storms including an unnamed subtropical storm, 3 hurricanes, and one major hurricane, which ironically was named Erika. A similar thing has happened this year. The Atlantic got off to a pretty fast start with a rare mid-May named storm, and three named systems over the first two months of the season. Once again though, the basin grew quiet as we moved into and through the month of August. For the first 18 days of the month, there were no depressions or named storms let alone hurricanes.
Then came Danny, which became the strongest storm to date in the Atlantic. Forming on August 18th, Danny, which is the only hurricane in the Atlantic so far in 2015, grew to become the first major hurricane of the season in the Central Atlantic with sustained winds estimated to be up to 115 miles per hour. The storm peaked in intensity within 72 hours of first becoming a tropical system. Fortunately, for not only residents of the coastal United States, but also the Lesser Antilles, Danny, a classic Cape Verde system, began to feel the affects of dry air in the Atlantic, and dissipated into a trough of low pressure west of Guadeloupe.
In Danny’s wake came another system from the Eastern and Central Atlantic. Erika, which has still caused quite a bit of damage in the Leeward Islands with heavy rains, especially on the island of Dominica, first developed within 12 hours of Danny’s demise. While the Atlantic’s fifth named storm of the year has been erratic and difficult to forecast, it has managed to survive to this point thanks to more moisture in the tropics. The problems that Erika has been dealing with include wind shear, a rapidly moving circulation, and now, the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola. The storm is a fledgling system with only 50 miles per hour, and the odds of it becoming a hurricane or a major hurricane are falling.
Regardless of the struggles of these two storms, their development reminds us all that we are entering the peak season in the Atlantic. The statistical peak is still two weeks off on Thursday, September 10th. Activity in Africa as well as the Eastern and Central Atlantic have started to fire up as demonstrated by the development of these two storms. With Erika lurking in the Caribbean, residents in Florida are under a State of Emergency, and others in nearby coastal states such as Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have to closely monitor the progress of this storm. The 2015 season may end up being below average, but things have begun to heat up, and most importantly, all it takes is one storm, and people must be always prepared for that.
Storm Peaked to 90 MPH Winds; Third Hurricane Already in EPAC
While Tropical Storm Bill preoccupied many in the United States this past week, the Eastern Pacific continued to have a strong start with its third hurricane of the season, Carlos. The 2015 EPAC season is the second fastest to reach its third hurricane. Only the 1956 Eastern Pacific Season was faster in reaching its third hurricane.
Forming in the very warm waters of the Eastern Pacific near Southern and Western Mexico, Carlos did manage to attain peak winds of 90 miles per hour, but couldnâ€™t match the intensity of its two 2015 EPAC predecessors: Andres and Blanca, which both strengthened to high end Category Four Hurricanes with 145 and 140 mph winds respectively. Like Blanca, Carlos approached portions of Western Mexico, but mostly fizzled out by the time its center reached land.
Before dissipating to a remnant low on Wednesday, Hurricane Carlos did manage to produce significant rains. At peak intensity of 90 mph winds and minimum pressure of 984 millibars, or 29.06 inches of Hg on Tuesday afternoon, the Category One storm brought 3 to 6 inches of rainfall to Mexican states of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango, and Sinaloa with isolated areas receiving upwards of 10 inches. Carlos was a compact storm with hurricane force winds only extending some 10 miles from the eye while tropical storm force winds reaching out some 45 miles.
With an El Nino episode forecasted this year, there were already high expectations in the Eastern Pacific, and so far it hasnâ€™t disappointed. All three EPAC systems that formed so far in 2015 have become hurricanes with two of them reaching major hurricane threshold. This followed a very busy 2014 season with 21 tropical depressions, 20 hurricanes, 14 hurricanes, and 9 major hurricanes.
Not Even a Month into the Season and There Have Been Two Storms Already
Although the Atlantic gets the honor for having the earliest start to the season in 2015, the Eastern Pacific is already off to a solid start. Just three weeks into the season, and there have been not only two named storms, but also two major hurricanes. Taking advantage of the very warm waters off the Mexican and Central American coastlines, which may be heated up even more thanks to the emergence of El Nino, both Andres and Blanca rapidly intensified to major hurricanes with Category Four strength winds. The Eastern Pacific season usually starts before the Atlantic since the EPAC officially starts on May 15th while the Atlantic begins on June 1st.
This year, however, the tables have been turned. Despite less than enthusiastic forecasts for activity in the Atlantic Basin, it got the jump on the Eastern Pacific when Tropical Storm Ana formed off the Southeastern United States near the Bahamas on May 7th. Since then, the Atlantic has gone dormant, which is the usual pattern at the beginning of the season since water temperatures are still quite cool. It took almost two weeks for the first system to form in the Eastern Pacific, but the basin sure made up for lost time when Andres rapidly strengthened to have 145 mph winds during the early morning of June 1st. Andres soon moved into cooler waters and eventually dissipated three days later without impacting land.
Blanca followed suit as it began churning as a tropical low while Andres was taking center stage. Since Andres’ demise though, Blanca has made a name for herself. On the evening of Wednesday, June 3rd, Blanca had rapidly intensified to have 140 mph winds, and an estimated minimum central pressure of 943 millibars or 27.85 inches of Hg. Since then Blanca has gone through some ups and downs in intensity. The storm had weakened to have only 90 mph winds as of 6:00 PM MDT on Friday evening. However, by Saturday afternoon, Blanca had re-energized to have winds of 130 miles per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 943 millibars or 27.85 inches of Hg again. The storm is now taking aim at Baja California.
Within the past few hours, Blanca’s winds have slackened off as it has moved into cooler waters and its overall cloud signature has become asymmetrical. As of the 9:00 PM MDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Blanca is still a major hurricane with 120 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 952 millibars, or 28.12 inches of Hg. The storm is moving to the North-Northwest at 10 miles per hour. A Hurricane Watch is currently in effect for the coast of Baja California from Cabo San Lucas to Santa Fe. A Tropical Storm Warning is also in effect from Loreto to Puerto San Andresito, including Cabo San Lucas. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from North of Puerto San Andresito to Punta Abreojos and from North of Loreto to Mulege.
Hurricane force winds are possible within the watch area by Sunday evening, and rainfall amounts expect to be between 6 to 10 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 15 inches. Swells from Blanca are already affecting the Southwestern Mexico, Baja California, and Gulf of California, and could produce life threatening surf and rip currents. This is the fourth straight season that there has been two storms in the Eastern Pacific by the end of the first week of June. However, the previous three seasons (2012, 2013, and 2014), the EPAC has started off with a hurricane and a tropical storm. Nothing like the two Category Four Hurricanes we have seen so far here.
The 2014 season in the EPAC was quite active with 21 depressions, 20 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and 9 major hurricanes. Two years ago in 2013, there were 18 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and one major hurricane. Three seasons ago in 2012, there were 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Keep in mind, these seasons were not El Nino years, and the start in the Eastern Pacific this year is a strong indication that the El Nino is emerging. So, this is only the beginning.
Fourteenth Named Storm of Season in EPAC Strengthens into Sixth Major Storm
In what has already been a very busy season in the Eastern Pacific, things got even busier over the past several days. Hurricane Norbert not only became the 14th named storm of the season in the region, but also strengthened into the season’s eighth hurricane and now sixth major hurricane. Norbert became the latest major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific late Friday night, and now has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour with gusts in upwards of 150 miles per hour. Minimum central pressure in the storm is down to 957 millibars, or 28.26 inches of Hg (Mercury).
Located some 95 miles to the west of Cabo San Lazaro, or some 225 miles to the South-Southeast of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, Norbert is moving parallel to the coast of Baja with a Northwest track at a modest 8 miles per hour. Currently, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for portions of Baja California from Santa Fe to Punta Eugenia and from San Evaristo to Loreto. The area that encompasses hurricane force winds is a bit small at some 45 miles from the center while tropical storm force winds reach out about 140 miles from the center. The key effects from this system will be tropical storm force winds, some rain, and dangerous surf and rip currents.
With Norbert strengthening to a major hurricane, expect a repeat of what happened about a week or so ago when what was once Category Five Hurricane Marie stirred up historic wave heights and surf from Baja California to the Gulf of California in Mexico, and up to Southern California in the United States. While the surf and waves may not be as high as those from Marie, it will be significant enough to attract some attention from surfers and curiosity seekers. Rainfall amounts of one to two inches is expected from the outer bands of the storm. Although the forecasted El Nino has not developed, and is not anticipated to be as strong as previously thought, activity in the Eastern Pacific has been noteworthy.
As of today (September 6th), the Eastern Pacific has already seen its “N” named storm. Last year, the “N” storm didn’t occur for another month (October 6th), and 2013 was still a busy season with 18 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and just one major hurricane. This year alone, there have been four storms of at least Category Four strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with one (Marie) reaching Category Five levels. The last time, there was a Category Five Hurricane in the Eastern Pacific was 2010. In addition, three storms that originated in the EPAC eventually moved into the Central Pacific and threatened Hawaii.
Forecasts Indicate a 65 Percent Chance of Weak Episode Developing
An El NiÃ±o event is coming. Â Many have wondered when it is coming, but despite the delay, an ENSO episode is on the way. Â Although forecasts from earlier this year calling for a strong one have diminished, there is still a very good chance of one occurring by the end of this year, or early next year. Â According to NOAA’s ElÂ NiÃ±o portal, the National Weather Service suggests that there is still a 65 percent chance of an ENSO episode developing in the fall or the early winter. Â Expectations of intensity have been reduced though to just a weak episode.
Right now, the ENSO alert status on the Climate Prediction Center web site is at El NiÃ±o Watch, which is “issued when conditions are favorable for the development of El NiÃ±o conditions within the next six months.” Â The ElÂ NiÃ±o and Southern Oscillation is a global weather pattern shift that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific become higher than normal, and gradually migrate across the Pacific Ocean. Â The effects of this weather shift is felt all around the globe. Â Some of these effects may have positive or negative impacts depending upon where you live.
For example, an El NiÃ±o episode could result in increased rainfall in California, which would be a welcome sight. Â Currently, California is experiencing one of its worst droughts in history. Â So significant rainfall would be very beneficial. Â However, with this year’s El NiÃ±o forecasted to be weak, there may be a limit to how much rain California would get. Â ENSO also has an impact on the Indian Monsoon weather pattern, but it is a bit more complicated. Â The Indian Monsoon is not rainfall, but a large scale weather pattern that affects the subcontinent. Â It occurs between June and September, and is responsible for the majority of India’s yearly rainfall. Â For the most part, ElÂ NiÃ±o generally suppresses monsoonal rainfall.
Other impacts across the United States includes drier conditions in the Ohio Valley, less than normal rainfall across Hawaii from late fall to early spring, and somewhat drier conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. Â Another key impact is on the tropics. Â Warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific usually mean more activity in the Eastern, Central, and Western Pacific basins. Â So far this year, there has been quite a bit of activity in the EPAC with 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes including 3 Category Four storms and one Category Five system. Â The Central Pacific has seen four storms in the area of Hawaii, and the Western Pacific has experienced a number of powerful typhoons.
Meanwhile, activity in the Tropical Atlantic has been lacking. Â There have only been 5 tropical depressions, 4 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes so far in 2014, and we are five days away from the statistical peak of the season. Â However, the lack of activity in the Atlantic is not because of ENSO. Â Instead, it is because of dry air over a vast portion of the Atlantic Basin. Â Normally, when an ElÂ NiÃ±o occurs, it creates hostile upper level wind conditions in the Atlantic, which prevents tremendous thunderstorms from developing, which is a critical ingredient for tropical storm and hurricane formation.
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