East Pacifc Hurricane Season Preview

By: MAweatherboy1 , 11:08 PM GMT on May 02, 2012

As we all know, it's getting to be that time of year... In less than a month we will begin the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season! However we are less than 2 weeks away from the start of the 2012 East Pacific Hurricane Season. The main factor that will drive the Atlantic Season this year will also be the driving force in the East Pacifc, and that is of course the ongoing transition from La Nina conditions into neutral conditions and likely heading for at least weak El Nino conditions by late season. Many, including myself, expect this year's Atlantic season to have the majority of its storms for by the end of August before we transition to El Nino conditions which increases shear across the Atlantic basin.

This recent Sea Surface Temperature anomaly map indicates that waters in the East Pacific where storms are most likely to form this year are very warm, increasing the chances of an active season. Many other areas in the Pacifc remain cooler than average, however.

El Nino conditions that inhibit development in the Atlantic aid in storm development in the East Pac, so I expect a lot of this basins' storms to occur from September to November. Two good analogues for this year in the East Pac seem to be 2006 and 2009.

Map of storms and storm tracks during the active 2006 East Pac season

I think 2006 is a better analogue becuase that year had more storms form closer to the coast than in 2009, and I'm expecting a lot of coastal development in that area this year because of the warm waters. 2009 is a good analogue in terms of number of storms, but many storms that year formed farther away from shore because El Nino conditions were present for the full 2009 season. This year, however, waters further from shore are not as warm because we are coming out of a La Nina, meaning it may not be until late in the season until these waters are more favorable for storm development. All things considered, here are my official numbers:
* 19 named storms
* 10 hurricanes
* 6 major hurricanes

I am willing to bet that my the end of July people will be calling the East Pac season a bust and my numbers will look totally impossible to reach. Just remember what I said though: Many of our storms in the East Pac this year will happen towards the end of the season as we reach El Nino conditions.
The final aspect of the East Pac season I'll look at in this post will be potential land impacts. Because tropical cyclones generally move from east to west, it is rare for storms in the East Pacific to impact land since storms that move west as most do move away from shore. Still, there are exceptions. Just last year Hurricane Jova struck Mexico. In 2009, extremely powerful Major Hurricane Rick put a serious scare into Baja California as it charged towards the peninsula at Cat 5 strength before rapidly weakening prior to reaching Baja. Becuase I expect a lot of storms to form close to shore in the East Pacific this year, I think there is a higher than normal chance of impacts in Mexico, so people there should be on guard.
We're almost there!
Thank you for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week!

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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2. MAweatherboy1
12:11 AM GMT on May 03, 2012
Quoting KoritheMan:
Nice entry. Your thoughts pretty much signify my own.

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1. KoritheMan
11:15 PM GMT on May 02, 2012
Nice entry. Your thoughts pretty much signify my own.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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Average 20 year old weather nerd. Plymouth State University Meteorology, Class of 2018. NOAA Hollings scholar. Summer 2016 intern at NWS Boston.

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