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Climatology of Tropical Cyclones in the Central Pacific Basin

The following graphs and charts describe some of the climatology of tropical cyclone activity in the area served by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, between 140 degrees West longitude and the International Date Line and north of the equator.

Many factors affect the level of tropical cyclone activity from year to year.Among them are the state of the El Nino Southern Oscillation in the Pacific.Moderate to strong El Nino years are correlated with increased tropical cyclone activity in the Central Pacific and the occurrence of late season storms.

Continuous satellite coverage has been available in the Central Pacific since 1971 so many climatologies start with that date.Earlier accounts of tropical cyclone activity are based on land, ship, and aircraft observations as well as some non-continuous satellite data.

Hurricane activity is favored at different times of the year around the globe.The primary controlling factor for tropical cyclone formation is sea surface temperature.Warm ocean waters of 82 degrees provide ample moisture and water vapor to the atmosphere to drive the hurricane engine.The timing of warm waters determines the hurricane season in a particular basin.

Tropical Cyclone Breeding Grounds
Tropical Cyclone Breeding Grounds

In the East Pacific, the season runs from mid May through October.In the Central Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, the season runs from June to November.In the West Pacific, the water remains warm year round and typhoons occur in every season.

On average, between four and five tropical cyclones are observed in the Central Pacific every year. This number has ranged from zero, most recently as 1979, to as many as 11 in 1992 and 1994.

Hurricane Season Climatology Central Pacific


  Hurricanes Tropical Storms Tropical Depressions Total
Total Number 58 46 59 163
Percent of All Systems 36% 28% 36%  

Tropical Cyclones in the Central Pacific By Year

Tropical Cyclones in the Central Pacific Basin from 1957 to 2013

Total Number of Hurricanes, Tropical Storms, Tropical Depressions by Month (1971-2013)
Central Pacific Tropical Cyclones per month from 1971 to 2013

The following charts show the storms that have come within 200 miles and 75 miles of Hawaii.Storms that do not make landfall in Hawaii can still cause considerable damage, mostly from winds and surf.

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes passing within 200 miles of Hawaii since 1950

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes passing within 75 miles of Hawaii since 1950