Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Starts Off Slowly

By | May 18, 2017

The eastern Pacific hurricane season is starting off with a whimper.

While one short-lived tropical storm developed off Mexico’s Pacific coast last week, the earliest on record, computer models show another one isn’t likely soon, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tropical Storm Adrian formed before the start of the season Monday, but fizzled out before becoming a threat to people or property.

“It doesn’t look like we are going to have a record-early second storm,” Masters said by telephone.

While hurricanes in the Atlantic are the ones that can really wreak havoc on energy and agriculture markets, systems in the Pacific have also caused massive damage to Mexico’s Pacific coast and can trigger widespread flooding reaching into the U.S. Southwest.

In an average year, 15 named storms form in the Pacific basin, eight of which become hurricanes with four developing into major systems, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. The Pacific season runs to Nov. 30.

This year, there could be 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes and seven major systems in the basin, according to AccuWeather Inc. In 2016, 21 named storms formed off Mexico.

A storm is named when winds reach at least 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour. In 2014, Hurricane Odile struck Baja California, killing 11, stranding 30,000 tourists and causing about $1 billion in damage to roads, communication lines and buildings.

Warmer Than Normal

Ocean temperatures in the eastern Pacific near Mexico are warmer than normal, which fuels budding hurricanes and tropical storms, Masters said. That effect would be accelerated should an El Nino form in the equatorial Pacific.

On Thursday, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center lowered the odds for a weather-changing El Nino to form. The phenomenon occurs when the Pacific surface waters warms and the atmosphere above it reacts.

The next named storm in the eastern Pacific hurricane will be Beatriz. Tropical systems that reach hurricane strength west of the International Dateline are called typhoons, and typically occur throughout the year.

The Atlantic storm season begins June 1.

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