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A Pacific hurricane or tropical storm is a tropical cyclone that develops in the northeastern part of the Pacific Oceanmarker. For organizational purposes, the Pacific Ocean is divided into three regions: the eastern, (North America to 140°W), central (140°W to the International Date Linemarker), and western (west of the Date Line). A Pacific hurricane, then, is a tropical cyclone in the northern Pacific Ocean east of the Date Line. Identical phenomena in the western north Pacific are called typhoons. This separation between the two basins is convenient, however, as tropical cyclones rarely form in the central north Pacific and few ever cross the dateline.

Eastern North Pacific

Hurricane season runs between May 15 and November 30 each year. These date encompass the vast majority of tropical cyclone activity in this region.

The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for this basin is the United Statesmarker' National Hurricane Center. Previous forecasters are the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Center and the Joint Hurricane Warning Center. The RSMC monitors the eastern Pacific and issues reports, watches and warnings about tropical weather systems and cyclones as defined by the World Meteorological Organization.

This area is, on average, the second-most active basin in the world. There are an average of 16 tropical storms annually, with 9 becoming hurricanes, and 4 becoming major hurricanes. Tropical cyclones in this region frequently affect mainland Mexicomarker and the Revillagigedo Islandsmarker. Less often, a system will affect the Continental United States or Central America. Northbound hurricanes typically reduce to tropical storms or dissipate before reaching the United States: there's only one recorded case of a Pacific system reaching Californiamarker as a hurricane in almost 200 years of observations—the 1858 San Diego Hurricane.

Most east Pacific hurricanes originate from a tropical wave that drifts westward across the intertropical convergence zone, and across northern parts of South America. Once it reaches the Pacific, a surface low begins to develop, however, with only little or no convection. After reaching the Pacific, it starts to move north-westward and eventually west. By that time, it develops convection and thunderstorm activity from the warm ocean temperatures but remains disorganized. Winter in the east Pacific is usually covered with strong shear, which limits development. Once it becomes organized, it becomes a tropical depression. Formation usually occurs from south of the Gulf of Tehuantepec to south of Baja California with a more westerly location earlier in the season. In the eastern Pacific, development is more centered than anywhere. Most tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific reach their peak strength as a strong tropical storm due to strong shear. If wind shear is low, storms can undergo major intensification as a result of very warm oceans, becoming a major hurricane. Major hurricanes weaken once they reach unfavorable areas for a tropical cyclone formation, and most of them do an eyewall replacement and weaken. Their remnants sometimes reach Hawaii and cause showers there.

There are a few types of Pacific hurricane tracks: one is a westerly track, another moves north-westward along Baja California and another moves north. Sometimes storms can move north-east either across Central America or mainland Mexico and possibly enter the Caribbean Sea becoming an Atlantic basin tropical cyclone, but these are rare.

Central Pacific

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with a strong peak in August and September. However, tropical cyclones have formed outside those dates. Should a tropical cyclone enter the central north Pacific from the western north Pacific, where they occur year-round, or from the eastern north Pacific, where the season starts in May, it is not known if such a system will be considered out of season or not.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is the RSMC for this basin and monitors the storms that develop or move into the defined area of responsibility. A previous forecaster was the Joint Hurricane Warning Center.

Central Pacific hurricanes are rare and on average 3 or 4 storms form or move in this area. Most often, storms here are weak and are often declining upon entry. The only land tropical cyclones can impact here is Hawaiimarker or Johnston Atollmarker. Due to small size, direct hits and landfalls are rare.

Steering factors

Hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific tend to move westward out to sea, harming no land. However, hurricanes can recurve to the north or northeast, hitting Central America or Mexico early and late in the hurricane season.

See also


  1. National Hurricane Center. Tropical Cyclone Climatology. Retrieved on 2008-04-19.
  2. Michael Chenoweth and Chris Landsea. The San Diego Hurricane of 2 October 1858. Retrieved on 2008-04-19.

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