Active Pacific cyclone season

Monday 07th Sep 2015 by theWeather Club

This August marked the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the most costly hurricane on record causing an estimated $108 billion in damage in Louisiana and Mississippi and an estimated 1500 deaths. However, this year the Atlantic Ocean is experiencing a relatively quiet hurricane season. The Pacific Ocean typhoon season, on the other hand, has been very active, particularly from late June onwards. It is forecast to be the most active since 2004.  A strong El Niño tends to promote tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific whilst suppressing it in the Atlantic.

In early July, three tropical cyclones - Severe Tropical Storm Linfa, Typhoon Chan-hom and Typhoon Nangka - formed almost simultaneously. Chan-Hom became the strongest storm to make landfall in Zhejiang province since 1949. 

At the end of July and early August, Typhoon Soudelor became the strongest storm so far, reaching peak intensity with winds of 130 mph (with one-minute sustained winds of 180 mph recorded) and an atmospheric pressure of 900 hPa on 3rd August, making it a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon at its peak. It brought chaos to Taiwan and parts of south-eastern China in early August, bringing rains and gale force winds which triggered landslides, leaving at least 14 dead and millions of homes without power. One coastal area saw more than 50 cm of rain in 24 hours – the heaviest for a century. 

In mid-August, twin typhoons Goni (category 3) and Atsani (category 1) became the ninth and tenth typhoons of the year.  Goni lashed the Philippines and southern Japan, reportedly killing at least 19, whilst Atsani tracked towards Japan, before weakening to a tropical storm.

However, as we leave the summer season, all eyes are on the trio of category 4 hurricanes currently churning in the Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena stirred simultaneously on 29th August, which is the first time in recorded history that three hurricanes of such strength have existed at the same time in the Pacific Ocean.