The last time three eastern-Pacific hurricanes developed this early was 1956.

Misdirected flocks of little, red crabs in California aren’t the only sign of a strengthening El Niño. There was also the bippety-bam-boom emergence of three eastern-Pacific hurricanes since May, something that hasn’t happened since 1956.

The folks at Climate.gov have posted an illuminating guide to what they call a “hyperactive” Pacific hurricane season. The long and short of it is that El Niño is driving up the ocean’s temperature and reducing wind shear, creating the perfect environment for frequent and powerful cyclones. (Though Carlos was weak, both Andres and Blanca reached Category 4 wind speeds of 140 to 150 mph.) Here’s part of that discussion:

On May 27, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued its annual hurricane outlooks for the eastern Pacific hurricane season, the central Pacific hurricane season, and the Atlantic hurricane season. The outlooks for both the eastern and central Pacific hurricane regions called for a 70% chance of an above-normal season. For the eastern Pacific, the predicted ranges of activity (with a 70% likelihood for each range) included 15-22 named storms, with 7-12 becoming hurricanes, of which 5-8 could be major hurricanes. These ranges are centered well above the season averages of 15-16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. If the predicted upper bound of eight major hurricanes occurs, it would tie for the most recorded in the 1971-2014 observational record.

With a strong El Niño predicted for this year, they add, we can likely “expect many more tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes over the eastern Pacific before the season ends” on November 30. That’s not great news for those living in western Mexico. But it’s not such a huge deal for the U.S., as winds tend to steer hurricanes away from the coastline, as shown in this model of storm tracks since 1842:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Maps

    Your Maps of Life Under Lockdown

    Stressful commutes, unexpected routines, and emergent wildlife appear in your homemade maps of life during the coronavirus pandemic.

  2. photo: Social-distancing stickers help elevator passengers at an IKEA store in Berlin.
    Transportation

    Elevators Changed Cities. Will Coronavirus Change Elevators?

    Fear of crowds in small spaces in the pandemic is spurring new norms and technological changes for the people-moving machines that make skyscrapers possible.

  3. photo: The Pan-Am Worldport at JFK International Airport, built in 1960,
    Design

    Why Airports Die

    Expensive to build, hard to adapt to other uses, and now facing massive pandemic-related challenges, airport terminals often live short, difficult lives.

  4. photo: an open-plan office
    Life

    Even the Pandemic Can’t Kill the Open-Plan Office

    Even before coronavirus, many workers hated the open-plan office. Now that shared work spaces are a public health risk, employers are rethinking office design.

  5. Maps

    Visualizing the Hidden ‘Logic’ of Cities

    Some cities’ roads follow regimented grids. Others twist and turn. See it all on one chart.

×