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Hurricane Ele (was also Typhoon Ele, international designation: 0217, and JTWC designation: 02C) was a powerful and long lived hurricane which formed in the central Pacific basin before crossing the International Date Line and being reclassified a typhoon. Ele was also the strongest hurricane in the central Pacific in the 2002 Pacific hurricane season, packing winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) as it moved out of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center's area of responsibility. The storm traversed the Pacific Ocean for 15 days before dissipating over open waters.

Meteorological history

The origins of Hurricane Ele can be traced back to an area of disturbed weather associated with a monsoon trough which formed on August 24 about 805 mi (1,295 km) to the south of the Hawaiian Islands.[1][2][3] The disturbance was poorly organized and development of the storm was not anticipated.[1] However, by the morning of August 26, the disturbance became better organized and was determined to have become a tropical depression.[3] The depression gradually became more intense as convection associated with the storm became deeper and banding features developed. On August 27, the depression had become sufficiently organized to be declared Tropical Storm Ele while located 430 mi (690 km) south of Johnston Atoll. Ele quickly intensified later that day, with winds just below hurricane status at 70 mph (105 km/h).[1]

The intensification briefly stopped shortly after. However, that night, a banding eye feature developed, indicating that Ele was nearing hurricane status. A few hours later, the storm was upgraded to Hurricane Ele based on the Dvorak technique, a system used to estimate the intensity of a tropical cyclone. The technique rendered a T4.0, which corresponds to an intensity of 75 mph (115 km/h).[1] Ele slowly strengthened throughout the day on August 28 as it continued to move towards the west-northwest. As the hurricane neared the International Date Line, it began to intensify once more. The storm was in an area of low wind shear and warm waters, two key factors for intensification.[2]

By the morning of August 30, Ele had intensified into a major hurricane—a storm with winds of 111 mph (178 km/h) or higher—as an eye appeared on satellite. By the time Ele was crossing the date line, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center increased the intensity of the storm to 125 mph (205 km/h), just short of Category 4 status, and stated that rapid intensification was occurring.[2] Just as the storm crossed the date line, the final advisory was issued as it was leaving the Central Pacific Hurricane Center's area of responsibility, but the last advisory had operationally upgraded Ele to a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 135 mph (215 km/h). However, since the storm had moved into the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) and Japan Meteorological Agency's (JMA) area of responsibility, it was not included in the final track of the storm.[1][3]

Upon entering the western Pacific basin, Ele was forecast to undergo rapid intensification and[4] the JTWC showed Ele peaking just short of Category 5 status in about 24 hours.[5] However, the intensification was not as rapid as anticipated and the storm peaked as a low-end Category 4 typhoon with winds of 135 mph (215 km/h). By this time, a north-northwestward movement took place due to a weakness in the mid-level ridge before weakening again. After briefly restrengthening back into a Category 4, the typhoon declined and turned to the northwest. Ele fell to a tropical storm on September 7, a depression on September 9, and dissipated shortly after that.[6]

Differences among warning centers

The Japan Meteorological Agency uses 10-minute sustained winds for its tropical cyclone tracking information, while the Joint Typhoon Warning Center uses 1-minute sustained winds.[7] The conversion factor between the two is 1.14.[8] JMA's peak intensity for Ele was 105 mph (165 km/h) 10-minute sustained, or 120 mph (195 km/h) 1-minute sustained. The JTWC's peak intensity for Ele was 135 mph (215 km/h) 1-minute sustained, or 115 mph (185 km/h) 10-minute sustained.[1]

Impact, naming and records

Since Ele never approached land during its existence there were no reports of any damage associated with Ele.[9]

When Tropical Depression Two-C was upgraded to Tropical Storm Ele on August 26, it was the first time that the name Ele was used for a tropical cyclone.[10]

When Ele crossed the International Date Line on August 30, it was the first time since 1988's Hurricane Uleki that a central Pacific basin hurricane crossed longitude 180° into the western Pacific basin while maintaining that intensity. One storm, Hurricane Li in 1994, briefly reached hurricane status near the date line but weakened to a tropical storm just before crossing it.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Gary Padgett (2002). "Gary Padgett's Monthly Summary for August 2002". Typhoon2000. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Andy Nash, Hans Rosendal, Brooke Bingaman, Treena Loos, Jeff Fournier, Sam Houston, and James Franklin (2003). "2002 Central Pacific Hurricane Summary:Ele". Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) (2003). "Hurricane/Typhoon Ele Best Track". JTWC. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  4. Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) (2003). "Japan Meteorological Agency Annual Tropical Cyclone Report: 2002" (PDF). JMA. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  5. "JTWC warning 31-08-2002 03z". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  6. Andy Nash, Hans Rosendal, Brooke Bingaman, Treena Loos, & Jeff Fournier. "2002 Central North Pacific Tropical Cyclones". Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  7. Joint Typhoon Warning Center (March 31, 2008). "Frequently Asked Questions". United States Navy. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  8. "Section 2 Intensity Observation and Forecast Errors". United States Navy. 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  9. "Annual Tropical Cyclone Report:Typhoon Ele". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 2003. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  10. National Hurricane Center (2008). "Eastern Pacific Best Tracks, 1949-2007". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 22, 2009.  Template:Dead link

External links