Hello, welcome to this page on the World Wide Web. Now, it is time to blow this page up. At 5 4 3 2 1 blastoff. No, I’m just kidding.
So, it’s the fifth day of the 2014 Pacific hurricane season. We’ve seen two invests, both of which earned a TCFA, but both busted. This season will my 11th season since I remotely started paying attention to tropical cyclones in the Eastern North Pacific. This is my 9th season since I started following the EPAC more closely, so naturally, I’m relatively experienced, having witness two El Nino years (2006 and 2009) and nearly another (2012).
So, let’s give a little recap of last season. It had 20 storms, 9 hurricanes, and 1 major hurricane. This compares to the 1976-2013 average of 16/9/4. In all, the season was near normal, with an above normal number of named tropical cyclones, a normal number of storms that attained hurricane intensity, and a below average number of major hurricanes. In addition to two storms in May, they were two summer “spikes” in activity. The first spike had Cosme/Daillia/Erick, all Category 1 hurricane and all 3 of which brought some damage to MX, and another with Flossie/Gil/Henriette. From mid-August for about 3 weeks, there was another burst of activity that included Manuel, which killed 169 and was costliest EPAC storm of all time, and after a brief break, continued into early November and included Raymond, which one could argue was a “savior”. Raymond was the 5th latest EPAC major on record (behind Kenna 02, 59 MX, Xina 85, and Kenneth 11), as well as the latest 1st major on record. Last season honesty looking back at it now wasn't that bad. It had a lot of storms strike the Baja California Peninsula, which is a pattern I like to see (minus all the deaths and damage of course).
I'd expect 18-8-5 this season. Ill get into details later, but here are my two analogues, mostly based on ENSO timing: 1972 and 1997. These analogues do not incorporate other atmospheric factors, as wind shear/vertical instability for the aforementioned past two seasons is unavailable. I contemplated including 1991, giving the ENSO timing similar (first weekly was around the same time as our first weekly which was last week), but I did not for two reasons. First, and foremost, 1991 was a Modoki and may or may not have occurred due to a volcanic eruption. Secondly, 1991 was part of the +PDO era, and while PDO is positive, the -PDO for now is expected to continue for another decade or so.
Regarding my 1972 comparison, it was during a -PDO era and a powerful El Nino event. 1972 was a relatively mild season with only 14 storms, but I have serious doubt, given that the EPHC admits it was much less liberal than they were classify storms in seasons past, and the fact that there were 6 TD’s, which is odd given the warm ENSO phase. However, in my personal dataset, 1972 is not even listed. With that said, 1972 had some unique things. Hurricane Celeste hit Jonhston Atoll, and Hurricane Diana came close to Hawaii. Hurricane Hyancith hit California as a tropical depression. Hurricane Joanne moved into Arizona as a tropical storm, in addition to hit Baja California Sur as a hurricane. It got on to a very slow start like most El Nino years, but had a strong finish.
As for 1997, this seemed like the obvious analogue a few months ago, where the El Nino had the chance to be super strong. It looks less likely now, but this comparisons still is relevant, given we are not likely to have a Modoki. It is really the only good comparison that we have good ENSO data for that did not form in autumn or was a Modoki. But to be honest, from an activity standpoint, 1997, 2006, and 2009 were not all that different count wise, just 1997 was more record setting than 2006 and 2009.
1997 was an epic season, long story short. It had 2 Cat 5’s (Guillermo and Linda), the latter of which was the strongest East North Pacific tropical cyclone in recorded history. It got on to a so so start like most El Nino seasons, but from July onwards, it was on a role, though like 2009, it had a few weak systems. Still, it had a number of noteworthy storms. In addition to the 2 already mentioned, it had Ignacio, whose remnants made it to California and much of the US West Coast, Nora (which is the most recent Baja California Norte hurricane landfall, and moved into Arizona as a tropical storm), Pauline (is disputed as the costliest EPAC storms on record, formerly the most expensive until 2011, as well as the most deadliest since 1982), and Rick (not as bad as Pauline, but an underrated storm that hit the same places as Pauline a month later). Also of note were Oliwa and Paka, which became super typhoons in the Western Pacific.
Conditions/expectations (for 2014)
Expectations are as high as they have ever been. In all, this is the most anticipated EPAC season since the internet first existed, more so than 2009 PHS. All this hype in my eyes is valid, especially given the fact we've had two invests and it is May 19. However, let's not get too carried El Nino years tend to have late activity starters. You can't get too high nro too low; I do not want anyone to panic after a probable slow start.
SST's are very warm and already are up to 26C along Cabo San Lucas. SST's well above normal along the western Baja coast. However, they are only near average elsewhere, and there is a cool pool near 120W. Still, not unlike 1997. On the positive side, shear is way below normal and vertical instability is once again above average. By comparisons, shear in both 2006 and 2009 at this time were above normal. Vertical instability in 2009 was above normal (and there was quite some consistency then) while 2006 was average, but on an upward spike. Both 2006 and 2009 had above normal vertical instability and below normal wind shear. But to be honest, they are not the best analogues for the season. 2006 did not get an El Nino until August, and 2009 was a Modoki. Also, another thing to consider is the strength of African waves. Right now, we have a warm Gulf of Guinea, which tend to have stronger waves. However, no significant Atlantic Nino event is present at this time. This could have strong waves, but the waves are not likely to be as far south, like a full fledged Atlantic nino event would have. I don't think this will be a huge issue as I think it's unlikely we'll get the problem that happened last season, where the northward ITCZ prevented majors, or in 2010's case, prevent any storms from forming at all. On the other hand, this northward ITCZ setup favors landfalls, as troughs don't have to dig as deep. But you don't want the the ITCZ to get too far south that storm's can not form since they were too close to the equator. Given that ITCZ has been more poleward in recent years, ill expect the ITCZ to be displaced to north slightly at times, favoring landfalls somewhat.
As mentioned earlier, El Nino years tend to be late activity starters, as noted by me in 2012. This is evident by 2009, 2006, 1991, 1994, 1987 and 1972’s late start; however, this does not apply to 2 year El Nino’s (like 1992, which is technically neutral, or 1983). However, it is worth noting that all seasons listed above were Modoki’s sans 1972 and probably 2006, but since I do not notice any major difference in Modoki’s and regular El Nino’s, I will still expect a slow start. I expect nothing for May, maybe something in early June, followed by a 3 storm outburst in late June (typically we get one early season MJO outburst per year). There is an outside chance we could challenge 2009 for the latest start since 1969, and the latest start in my personal records, which go back to 1976 (reason is because we have had exactly one positive and one negative phase since that time frame in exactly the same number of years). However, by the end of July, I expect activity to pick up considerably, and it continue through the next three months (sans the typical El Nino early September dry spell which occurs when the ATL gets semi-busy). By the end of September or even late August, I'd expect landfalls By November, activity should dwindle down as usual.
Additionally, I'd say there is a near to above average risk of landfalls. For major hurricanes, there is an above average risk. In any given year since 1956, there is a 19% chance of a landfalling MH. Not counting Socorro Island, there is a 17% chance of MX getting hit each year, 14% chance of the mainland getting hit and a 3% chance it's on Baja California Sur. This year, I'd assign an above average risk of all that occurring.
My range: 16-21 named storms 6-10 hurricanes 3-6 major hurricanes
My forecast: 18 named storms 8 hurricanes 5 major hurricanes