Following weeks of below-average tropical activity in the eastern Pacific Ocean basin, Mother Nature has decided to add several tropical cyclones into the mix. This includes Hurricane Hector, Tropical Storms Ileana and John, and Invest 94E. The eastern Pacific Ocean, a region that typical experiences 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes (category 3-plus), has already had 10 named storms, 4 of which have become hurricanes and all but 1 intensifying into a major hurricane. That makes the season so far above-average in terms of both ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) as well as the pace of these named storms.

Four Tropical Systems Swarm the Pacific Ocean
Four Tropical Systems Swarm the Pacific Ocean

Typically, the 10th named storm does not arise in this basin until September 1. and the 4th hurricane until August 12. What’s most remarkable is how strong some of these storms have been thanks to the above-average season surface temperatures, unlike in the Atlantic Ocean. Three hurricanes (Aletta, Bud, and Hector) have all reached major hurricane status.

Hurricane Hector:

Following a scare late last week, Hector will not take a direct path toward Hawaii. Nonetheless, many of the islands will still be impacted by this storm in the form of gusty rain showers as well as rough surf and rip currents.

hurricane hector, Four Tropical Systems Swarm the Pacific Ocean, hurricane hector hawaii, hurricane hector category 4,
Hurricane Hector has intensified into a Category 4 storm with 145 mph max winds. Via NOAA

The size of this storm is massive as it tracks about due-west along approximately 15°N latitude. As of Monday morning (local time), the storm has reached maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, which is category 4 strength. It will take a slight turn to the north through midweek as it makes its closest approach to Hawaii as a major hurricane on Wednesday into Thursday, but again will remain well offshore.

hurricane hector, Four Tropical Systems Swarm the Pacific Ocean, hurricane hector hawaii, hurricane hector category 4,
The powerful hurricane is expected to pass south of Hawaii . Via NOAA

Hector is forecast to hold at hurricane strength — albeit weaker once it moves west of Hawaii — as it continues to track west and possibly across the International Date Line by early next week, making it a typhoon.

Tropical Storm Ileana:

Ileana, an intense tropical storm, continues to hug the western Mexican coast while being located not too far from Tropical Storm John. Unlike Hector and the other active tropical cyclones in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, Ileana will pose a direct threat to land, with Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta as well as the southern extent of Baja California all in range.

Thanks to a conducive environment consisting of warm ocean temperatures and light wind shear, Ileana is expected to intensify into a hurricane as soon as Monday afternoon while tracking to the north and west, parallel to the Mexican coastline.

Thankfully Ileana is not expected to make a direct landfall, but it will still bring in “2 to 4 inches of rainfall over coastal sections of the Mexican states of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, and Jalisco, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches through Tuesday night,” according to the National Hurricane Center. These rains may cause flash flooding.

Winds may also be an issue, although the core of the strongest of winds will be offshore. The National Hurricane Center has released that “hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area tonight and early Tuesday. Tropical storm conditions are expected within portions of the warning area through early Tuesday. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area over southern Baja California Sur by Tuesday night or early Wednesday.”

There will also be ocean hazards, including life-threatening rip currents and large swells, so swimmers are urged to stay out of the waters. Ileana will track over cooler ocean waters beginning Tuesday night, which will allow for the storm to weaken as it heads out to sea.

Tropical Storm John:

John, located about 300 miles off the western Mexican coast and about 150 miles away from the center of Tropical Storm Ileana, is forecast to intensify into the basin’s 11th or 12th hurricane, and the 4th major hurricane by Wednesday. Now while this storm will be stronger than Illeana, John will remain a safe distance offshore, allowing for minimal impacts as it also tracks north and west and parallel to the coast. Surf and the rip current risk will be slightly enhanced midweek. – NOAA

Invest 94E:

Last but not least, there is an invest in the eastern Pacific Ocean. This invest is basically an area of disturbed weather that the National Hurricane Center is monitoring for potential tropical development.

Tropical Storms Ileana and John, and Invest 94E
Tropical Storms Ileana and John, and Invest 94E

With an 80 percent chance of formation within the next 5 days according to the National Hurricane Center, the disturbance will track in a general west-northwest direction. By the end of this week, it may become a tropical depression, or even a tropical storm, possibly posing the risk to Hawaii early-next week. If that risk does exist, it will likely be weak, based on its origin. – NOAA

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Weather Optics – Eastern Pacific Basin Perking Up with Tropical Activity

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