Active Season On Both Sides Of Pacific

Good morning. I’ve been watching things in terms of tropical activity transpire across the globe this summer, and I believe that we are either in the midst of a Madden-Julian Oscillation, or more likely in the throngs of an El Nino episode. I say this because if you look at the tropical activity not only on both sides of the Pacific, but also in the Atlantic, the tropical weather patterns so far this season are indicative of an El Nino event.

First, look at the Eastern Pacific. The EastPAC, which has been dormant relative to the Atlantic in the past eleven years with the exception of the 1997, which, by the way, was an El Nino year, has already had eight named storms, three hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. One of those two major storms, Daniel, nearly traveled to Hawaii, but the cooler waters in that part of the world, drained the storm of its strength before it could get there. Now, true, there haven’t been a lot of hurricanes, or major hurricanes, with respect to the number of storms, but we still have the active portion of the season to go yet.

Next, look at the Western Pacific. Like the EastPAC, the WestPAC has seen its share of storms. So far, there have been nine tropical storms, five typhoons, and three of those typhoons sustained major hurricane intensity. One of the most recent ones, Typhoon Saomai, reached Super Typhoon status, and made landfall in Southeastern China as the most powerful typhoon to hit that country in fifty years. So far this has been the most violent typhoon season in recent memory in the Western Pacific. Eight of the nine storms thus far this season have made landfall in China. Typhoon Chanchu began the season in a big way as a Super Typhoon that would have been classified as a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Meanwhile, in addition to the activity in the Pacific, there has been some violent weather in the Northern Indian Ocean as well with a rare powerful early season cyclone that struck the Myanmar Republic back in April. So far, there have only been three tropical storms, and one, Mala was the only cyclone to develop out of the three. The Southern Hemisphere also saw a great deal of activity this past season. Not only in terms of shear numbers, but also in terms of intensity. In the 2005-06 season, there were a total of 19 named storms in the Southern Hemisphere with a number of them including Clare, Floyd, Glenda, Larry, and Monica being the most notable.

On the other hand, the North Atlantic has gotten off to a rather modest start compared to last season, and although a number of the past eleven seasons have gotten off to similar starts, forecasters have seen indications that while the season will still be active, it is not expected to be as active as it was in 2005, or as earlier anticipated prior to the start of the season in June. There have only been three named storms, and none of them have gone on to reach hurricane status. Conditions have been too unfavorable for development. Upper level winds have been quite hostile for the most part, pressures have been high, and sea surface temperatures have been cooler than anticipated. There has been plenty of moisture, but the environment has just not been conducive for storms to emerge and develop.

Looking at these patterns, it is quite clear that the ingredients for an El Nino are there. When an El Nino occurs, tropical storm activity in the Pacific becomes very active while conditions become very hostile in the Atlantic. This is what we’ve seen so far in 2006. Now, it could be just an anomaly due to phenomena such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which had made news in 1999 and 2000 when both of those Atlantic seasons got off to slow starts. The 2004 season got off to a similar start. However, as the record shows, all three seasons were above normal compared to the fifty year average.


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2 responses to “Active Season On Both Sides Of Pacific”

  1. […] Since the very end of the 1994 season, when there were two named storms that particular month, the only season, which was below average was the 1997 season, where there were only eight named storms, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane. The 1997 season occurred in the midst of the strongest El Nino to date. With the recent dearth in activity throughout the Atlantic Basin, it has raised the question of whether or not, we have entered an El Nino phase. While the Atlantic has been tranquil, the Eastern and Western Pacific has seen a great deal of storms. Recently, China saw its worst typhoon in 50 years while seven others have also hit the Communist mainland. Over in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Hector was once a hurricane, and another disturbance has become the ninth named storm of 2006 in Ileana. […]

  2. […] This latest round of activity throughout the Pacific continues to show that conditions appear to be favoring an emegence of an El Nino. The Atlantic has had very hostile upper level dynamics while the Eastern Pacific has been busy with storms, hurricanes, and typhoons. The Western Pacific has been busy as well with eight storms alone striking mainland China including the worst typhoon to strike there in fifty years. Will this trend continue? We’ll have to see. Despite the fact that the atmosphere has not been kind to storms in the Atlantic, the region has shown signs of awakening in the past few weeks. […]