Another Fast Start to Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season

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.