Following weeks of below-average tropical activity in the eastern Pacific Ocean basin, Mother Nature has decided to add several tropical cyclones into the mix. This includes Hurricanes Hector and John and Tropical Storms Ileana and Kristy.
The eastern Pacific Ocean, a region that typical experiences 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes (category 3-plus), has already had 11 named storms, 5 of which have become hurricanes and all but 2 intensifying into a major hurricane. That makes the season so far above-average in terms of both ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) as well as the pace of these named storms.
Typically, the 11th named storm does not arise in this basin until September 10. and the 5th hurricane until August 26. What’s most remarkable is how strong some of these storms have been thanks to the above-average season surface temperatures, unlike in the Atlantic Ocean. Three hurricanes (Aletta, Bud, and Hector) have all reached major hurricane status.
Following a scare late last week, Hector will not take a direct path toward Hawaii. Nonetheless, many of the islands will still be impacted by this storm in the form of gusty rain showers as well as rough surf and rip currents. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Hawaii County.
The size of this storm is massive as it tracks about due-west along approximately 15°N latitude. As of Tuesday morning (local time), the storm has reached maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, which is category 4 strength, following a peak of 155 mph Monday evening. It will take a slight turn to the north through midweek as it makes its closest approach to Hawaii as a major hurricane on Wednesday into Thursday, but again will remain well offshore.
Hector is forecast to hold at hurricane strength — albeit weaker once it moves west of Hawaii — as it continues to track west and possibly across the International Date Line by early next week, making it a typhoon.
Tropical Storm Ileana:
Ileana, a weakening tropical storm, continues to hug the western Mexican coast while being located not too far from Hurricane John. Unlike Hector and the other active tropical cyclones in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, Ileana did pose a direct threat to land on Monday but is now expected to dissipate on Tuesday due to its absorption by nearby John.
Ileana is still expected to bring in “2 to 4 inches of rainfall over coastal sections of the Mexican states of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, and Jalisco, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches through Tuesday night,” according to the National Hurricane Center. These rains may cause flash flooding.
Winds may also be an issue, although the core of the strongest of winds will be offshore. Tropical storm conditions will be possible along the immediate coastline through early Tuesday.
There will also be ocean hazards, including life-threatening rip currents and large swells, so swimmers are urged to stay out of the waters.
Ileana will track over cooler ocean waters beginning Tuesday afternoon, which will allow for the storm to weaken as it heads out to sea and possible dissipate due to its close proximity to John.
John, located about 300 miles off the western Mexican coast and about 150 miles away from the center of Tropical Storm Ileana, is forecast to intensify further after becoming a hurricane Monday afternoon. It will likely even become the season’s 4th major hurricane by Wednesday. Now while this storm will be stronger than Illeana, John will remain a safe distance offshore, allowing for minimal impacts as it also tracks north and west and parallel to the coast. Surf and the rip current risk will be slightly enhanced midweek.
Tropical Storm Kristy:
Last but not least, there is Tropical Storm Kristy in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which formed Monday night. Like John, Kristy will pose no direct threat to land and will actually not indirectly affect land either because of how far offshore it is. Tracking west as a tropical storm now, she will take a sharp turn to the north by Thursday while strengthening into a hurricane. She should then weaken by the end of the weekend due to the cooler sea surface temperatures.