It has been a very quiet year for the most part in the Eastern Pacific. While there have been nine named storms, there have been no hurricanes at all. The strongest of the nine storms has been Tropical Storm Ignacio, which is the current storm being tracked as of the time of this report. Ignacio only has winds of 70 mph, and that's been the closest the EPAC has been to having a hurricane this season.
What has been the cause of this? Originally, sea surface temperatures in the region were cooler than normal due to the onset of a La Nina or cold phase of the ENSO in the Eastern and Central Pacific. Again, hurricanes need warm sea surface temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit to be able to develop. However, the latest La Nina episode has not been as strong as first forecast. So, there has to be other reasons for the lack of strong storms and hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific. That's what we're trying to find out.
It has been an interesting year in the Tropics. Who would have thought that at this point of the season, August 23, 2003, there would be more hurricanes in the Atlantic than in the Eastern Pacific. Quite a surprising statistic, but it is true. Despite the fact that the Eastern Pacific season starts two weeks before the Atlantic season does, there have been two hurricanes in the Tropical Atlantic so far this season, and none in the Eastern Pacific.
In addition, the Atlantic has had as many tropical depressions with nine although only five of them have become tropical storms. Here is the real surprising fact though. In the Eastern Pacific, there have only been four storms with winds of 65 mph/55 knots so far this season. On top of that, there have been four storms with winds of 50 mph or less. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, four of the five named storms have had winds of 70 mph or greater. The other storm was Tropical Storm Ana, which occurred in April.
The most powerful of all the storms so far this year in the Eastern Pacific is the current storm, Tropical Storm Ignacio, which is on the threshold of becoming the first hurricane of the 2003 Eastern Pacific season. As of this report, Ignacio has winds of 70 mph, or 60 knots, and a central pressure of 29.21 inches, or 989 mb. More importantly, Ignacio is in an area favorable for further development as it is located right along the Mexican coast just south of Cabo San Lucas in Baja California.
Looking at both the sea surface temperature and anomaly charts for the Eastern Pacific, it appears that the ocean temperatures are at or fairly close to normal. In addition, there are no major anomalies throughout the EPAC as of the time of this report. However, it is important to note that the really warm water is confined to the West Mexican Coast, and the ITCZ. Once storms get beyond that, they get caught up in the California current, which is a cold water current that runs along the coast of California.
Things may begin to change though in the Eastern Pacific since this is usually the statistical peak of the season in that part of the world. Actually, the high point of the Eastern Pacific season is around August 15th while the Atlantic's is around September 10th. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1st to November 30th. Looking farther westward in the Western Pacific, things are about normal in terms of activity with a few powerful typhoons including Super Typhoon Imbudo, one of the most powerful in that region in recent years.
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