From the ABC 7 Weather team

East Pacific Hurricane Season Starts Today

May 15, 2013 - 10:15 AM
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The East Pacific Hurricane Season starts today and there may be a tropical storm developing before the end of the week.

While the Atlantic Hurricane season is still two weeks away, today marks the beginning of hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.  And, already things are starting to develop. 



Investigation 90

 
 The National Hurricane Center has identified a cluster of thunderstorms hundreds of miles south of the Mexican Coast as having the potential of developing into the first named storm of the season.  If so, it would be named Alvin.  Here's a complete list of hurricane names for 2013. (I always like looking to see if my name is on there, it never is!) This chart of forecast models show that if Alvin develops it should stay away from land. 



Computer Model Track

 
The large majority of hurricanes here travel from East to West or Northwest. The Eastern Pacific season on average is busier than the Atlantic season which can impact us here in D.C.  

 



Average Tropical Cyclones East Pacific


On average there are 15 named storms, 8 of them becoming hurricanes and 4 of those becoming major hurricanes (cat 3 or stronger).  We are expecting it to be a near average to slightly below average Eastern Pacific season in terms of numbers of cyclones.  One of the reasons for this has to do with the temperature of waters in the equatorial pacific. Notice they are slightly below average in blue.



Sea Surface Temperature Anomoly


We look to that El Nino phenomenon for clues.   El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the unusual warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. When temps are warm and winds are calm, it can make for a busy hurricane season in the Pacific. This year, we are in a "neutral" phase of El Nino and should stay that way through the summer, making for a trickier forecast.  More detailed ENSO info here. So, why should we care about this in D.C? The ocean and atmosphere are a continuum of currents and patterns. And, when it's warm in the Pacific, it is often cool in the Atlantic and vice versa.  With a near normal to below average season in the Pacific, we are seeing parts of the Atlantic warm up, especially off the coast of Africa.



Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures

 
 Notice the cooler temperatures hugging the East Coast of the U.S. where we have had a cool May.  It's also a bit cool in the northern Gulf of Mexico.  Water temperatures need to be 80 degrees to support the "fuel" needed for a hurricane. The Atlantic Season may very well end up a busy one as many hurricane experts are predicting. We are coming off three consecutive "busy" seasons with 19 named storms each of those years.  We'll talk and blog more about the Atlantic Season in the next few weeks.

 

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