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Thursday, December 10, 2009

2009 Pacific Tropical Wrap-up

While the Atlantic tropical season was much more mild than usual, the Pacific Ocean saw a more active than typical season.

Eastern and Central Pacific

The 2009 hurricane season in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean was very active this year with 18 named storms including 7 hurricanes. Four of these hurricanes grew to become major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5.

Eastern and Central Pacific storms:

It is interesting to note that half of the storms listed formed in the Atlantic or Caribbean and crossed into the Pacific as a tropical wave before developing into a full fledge storm.

End of the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season (AccuWeather)

The 2009 East Pacific Basin hurricane season is over. The season featured two tropical depressions and 18 named tropical storms. Seven of the tropical storms reached hurricane strength and 4 of those hurricanes were major hurricanes. In a normal season this basin experiences 16 named storms nine of which become hurricanes. Four of those hurricanes normally become major hurricanes. Based on this information the 2009 season was slightly more active than normal.

By AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski


Eastern Pacific Hurricane Watch (Baja Insider)

The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season starts May 15th and it began very quietly. Usually we have our first tropical cyclone by May 22-25, the first
Tropical Depression didn't form until nearly a month later, June 18, and the first hurricane, Andres, formed on June 21. Andres gave some of the Baja rookies a case of nerves, initially forecast to move toward the Sea of Cortez, the storm fizzled due west of Puerto Vallarta. In June the air is warm enough for hurricanes but neither still enough (too many upper level winds) or humid enough to support tropical cyclone activity. In addition, the weather surrounding Baja are just reaching the nessicary 26°C levels to support cyclonic activity. The Baja veterans never got too worried about Andres.

For the next 70 days there was a normal level of cyclonic activity, but of lower intensity than usually. The net result for the season was above the norm for the last 11 years, but 4 tropical storms above normal versus the 44 year average. The number of Hurricanes and Major Hurricane was on par with the 30 year average but above normal for the last 11 years, which have been notably quieter. The graphic shown here has the 1966 to 1996 period, the 1997 to 2008 period (which was quieter than norm) and the current year.

Western Pacific

The western Pacific has no set season although the most activity occurs from May through November. Tropical storms may form at any time. Tropical systems in the western Pacific generally form closer to the equator where the sea surface temperatures tend to remain quite warm year round. Named storms in the western Pacific are known as typhoons.

The season is still active. 41 depressions formed of which 25 became tropical storms and 15 intensified to typhoons. 5 of these typhoons were strong enough to be considered Supertyphoons.

The Philippines, Vietnam, South China and Taiwan all have sufferred greatly due to landfalling typhoons primarily from August through mid-October. The result so far has been over 2300 people killed, more than 200 people missing and close to $11 BILLION USD in damage.

A fairly detailed synopsis of each storm in the season so far can be found in Wikipedia: 2009 Pacific typhoon season.

Additional discussions on the western Pacific typhoon season will follow in future posts. A single post cannot do justice to such an unusually harsh season.

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