Eastern Pacific Continues to Crank Out Storms

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.