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The 1985 Central Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season


Tropical Depression ENRIQUE moved into the CPHC area at 1200Z on July 1 after having been a tropical storm near 13N 130W for nearly 24 hours on June 29. ENRIQUE had formed west of the larger and quite intense Hurricane DOLORES.

ENRIQUE moved slightly north of west from near 14N 140W on July 1 to 16N 150W on July 4 at an average speed of a little less than 10 knots. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 25 knots with weak southwesterlies to the south of the center. On July 4, ENRIQUE changed course slightly and moved on a south of west track. ENRIQUE was a shallow depression at this time and was carried by the low level trade wind flow at an increased speed of about 15 kt. ENRIQUE passed about 350 miles south of the Big Island of Hawaii at 1200Z on July 5. At this time, it became difficult to find westerly winds on the south side of the depression. Lacking a definite closed circulation, the CPHC issued the last at advisory at 2100Z on July 5 at a position near 12N 158W.

Moisture carried by ENRIQUE caused a few localized heavy showers on the windward side of the Big Island of Hawaii on July 5 and over the Kona slopes during the nighttime hours of July 5 and 6.

July 21-26, 1985 (HURRICANE IGNACIO)

Hurricane IGNACIO developed rapidly from a weak tropical disturbance to near hurricane strength while moving west along 14N between 130W and 135W on July 21 and 22. This is somewhat farther west than usual for this type of rapid cyclogenesis to take place, that is, over waters with sea surface temperatures of about 27 degrees Celsius.

IGNACIO crossed 140W at about 221200Z. The CPHC issued its first advisory on Tropical Storm IGNACIO at 221500Z with maximum sustained winds at 60 knots. A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance airplane flew into the developing cyclone at daybreak the same morning and estimated the maximum sustained winds to be 75 knots around a well developed eye. IGNACIO was subsequently upgraded to a hurricane.

IGNACIO continued its rapid development while moving on a west northwest course between 8 and 12 knots. Later on the 23rd and early on the 24th, maximum sustained winds had reached 115 kt with an estimated central pressure of 960 millibars. It, therefore, compared favorably to some of the more intense hurricanes observed in the central Pacific. The hurricane appeared to have peaked in its intensity during this period. An upper trough in the westerlies to the northwest of the Hawaiian Islands was slowly moving closer to the approaching IGNACIO. The environment was rapidly becoming less favorable for sustaining IGNACIO as the upper level southwesterlies descended and colder and drier air aloft began to affect the storm.

Satellite imagery received during the night at about 241200Z indicated weakening as the eye had become irregular and disappeared. Air Force Hurricane Hunters flying into the cyclone at 241800Z confirmed the weakening trend while locating the center near 16N 147W in an area where other hurricane (DOT 1959 and FICO 1978) at approximately the same time of the year had maintained their strength. Slight intensification may have occurred later in the day as the eye redeveloped and the hurricane resumed its due westerly course along 16N.

The strong trough in the upper westerlies to the northwest of IGNACIO made recurvature or at least a more northerly track toward the Hawaiian Islands possible. Numerical guidance also showed a tendency for the storm to move on a more northerly track. A hurricane watch was issued at 250300Z for the Big Island of Hawaii. The watch was subsequently canceled at 260300Z as IGNACIO started to weaken again near 16N 153W or about 265 nautical miles southeast of Hilo and turned to a west southwest course under the shallow steering by the trade wind flow.

IGNACIO passed to the south of the Big Island at tropical storm strength about 261200Z in a rapidly weakening state. There was little effect on the weather over the Hawaiian Islands. However, surf ranging between 10 and 15 feet pounded the southeast facing shorelines of the Puna and Kau districts. The surf peaked on the afternoon of the 25th with some damage to roads and structures near Kalapana and Kapoho reported. The high surf originated from swell generated two days earlier when IGNACIO was near 145W as a young and vigorous hurricane. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) buoys anchored to the southeast and south of the Hawaiian Islands produced a valuable record of the energy spectrum of the swell generated by this hurricane.

Rainfall from the storm was generally light and only affected the Islands of Hawaii and Maui. There were a few reports of amounts greater than two inches received on the 26th from stations on the windward slopes of Maui and Hawaii. IGNACIO was downgraded to a tropical depression and the CPHC issued its last advisory on the system at 270300Z near 14N 160W.

August 4 - 8, 1985 (TROPICAL STORM LINDA)

LINDA entered the CPHC area of forecast responsibility early on August 8 as a tropical depression. Just 48 hours earlier, LINDA had been a tropical storm in the eastern North Pacific.

The tropical depression was moving slowly toward the northwest when it crossed over near 17.5N 140W and appeared to be gaining strength again. At 1800Z on the 4th, the winds around LINDA were estimated to be 40 knots and LINDA was upgraded to a tropical storm. LINDA remained a tropical storm for about 24 hours started to weaken again on the 5th. It was downgraded to a tropical depression near 18N 143W with maximum sustained winds near 30 knots.

LINDA began to feel the effects of the strong trade wind flow to its north and began to move on a south of west course. LINDA passed south of the Hawaiian Islands on August 8. It closest point of approach was 150 miles south of South Point. Some heavy showers associated with LINDA's circulation fell on the windward slopes of the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui with some totals between 5 and 10 inches. LINDA continued west at a moderate speed of 15 knots while weakening further. The CPHC issued its last advisory on LINDA at 090300Z near 16N 160W.

August 20-22, 1985 (TROPICAL DEPRESSION ONE-C)

Tropical Depression 1C developed from a disturbance embedded in the

trade wind flow south of the Hawaiian Islands. The disturbance passed about 350 miles south of the Big Island of Hawaii on August 19 and had been tracked by the CPHC for several days.

The disturbance appeared to be going through a strengthening phase near 15N 164W and the CPHC issued its first advisory on TD1C at 202100Z. TD1C moved on a west northwest course at a rather fast forward speed of 20 knots with maximum sustained winds estimated at 30 knots. The depression passed just south of Johnston Island at 211500Z with sustained winds of 25 knots reported on the atoll.

A large trough in the upper westerlies had been developing to the north and west of the depression. The close proximity of the upper level trough and its associated southwesterlies working their way down into the lower troposphere limited further development of TD1C.

The CPHC issued its last advisory on TD1C at 230300Z when the system appeared in the satellite imagery as being rather ragged and ill defined and the low level circulation center difficult to find.


Tropical Depression 2C developed from a disturbance, which passed well south of the Hawaiian Islands late in August. The CPHC tracked the disturbance for several days and determined the system had developed into a tropical depression on August 30 and was in a favorable environment for continued development. The CPHC issued the first advisory on TD2C at 302000Z when it was centered near 13N 179W.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) on Guam took over responsibility for the issuance of subsequent bulletins on TD2C with the 310300Z advisory. TD2C continued to strengthen west of the International Dateline and at 310900Z was named Tropical Storm SKIP by the JTWC.

SKIP moved in a northwesterly direction after crossing the Dateline and, for a time, became a threat to Wake Island. However, the Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (TUTT) to the north and west of SKIP began to steer the system north and eventually caused it to recurve to the northeast. During this period, SKIP went through two strengthening phases and reached typhoon intensities on two occasions, once for an 18-hour period on September 1 and again for about a 24 hour period on the 7th.

SKIP crossed the International Dateline toward the northeast on September 8 as a weakening tropical storm, rapidly taking on extratropical characteristics. The CPHC assumed responsibility for advisories at this time and issued the final advisory on SKIP at 080300Z. The system was subsequently carried as a gale low in the high seas marine bulletins issued by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Honolulu.

September 5 - 9, 1985 (HURRICANE PAULINE)

Hurricane PAULINE entered the central North Pacific on September 5, crossing from the eastern Pacific near 18N 140W. PAULINE had become a hurricane 24 hours earlier near 18N 134W and was in the prime of her life with estimated maximum winds estimated at 75 knots. PAULINE remained a steady state hurricane at this intensity for the next two days as it moved west and later northwest at a forward speed of 10 knots in the general direction of the Hawaiian Islands.

A hurricane watch was issued for the Big Island of Hawaii at 062100Z when PAULINE was located near 19N 146W or about 550 miles east of Hilo as it appeared the storm could affect the weekend weather over the Hawaiian Islands. PAULINE subsequently turned on a more northwesterly and later northerly course heading north along the 146 degrees west meridian while weakening. As a result of PAULINE's change in direction of movement, the hurricane watch was canceled at 071500Z.

Swell emanating from PAULINE's circulation did cause high surf along the east facing shores of all the Hawaiian Islands. Surf heights between 10 and 15 feet were reported along the Puna and Kau coastlines of the Big Island of Hawaii and caused the temporary closure of several roads from debris being tossed up on the thoroughfares by breaking waves. No damage to roads or property was reported.

An upper tropospheric trough moving southeast toward PAULINE caused it to veer to the north. Once PAULINE turned to a more northerly course, it began to feel the effects of shearing stresses of the upper level southwesterlies and began to weaken. The upper level flow predominated and the rapidly weakening low level circulation was carried northward over the next several days. PAULINE was downgraded to a tropical storm near 23N 146W at 081500Z and a tropical depression near 26N 146W at 090900Z.

The last advisory (number 53, indicating a life cycle of 13 days) was issued by the CPHC at 092100Z. The remnants of PAULINE moved northwest very slowly into an area of low pressure near 30N 150W, south of a large blocking high centered in the Gulf of Alaska. A recognizable circulation in the low level flow was discernible in the satellite pictures for several days as it drifted westward far to the north of the Hawaiian Islands.

September 9 -11, 1985 (HURRICANE RICK)

Hurricane RICK was a very powerful tropical cyclone when it crossed 140W and into the CPHC's area of responsibility at 091200Z. RICK was well developed, circular, and symmetrical with a relatively large (40 mile diameter) well defined eye. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 125 knots and made RICK one of the most intense hurricanes of record in the central North Pacific, exceeding by 5 knots the 120 knot maximum intensities of SUSAN in 1978, CELESTE in 1972 and the 115 knot winds of FICO in 1978 in the same area of the Pacific just east of 140W. Only Hurricane PATSY in the pre-satellite era of 1959 may have exceeded RICK in intensity. PATSY had an estimated 150 kt winds in it when investigated by a B-50 reconnaissance aircraft far west of Hawaii as the former typhoon moving northward along the dateline made an excursion into the central Pacific in September 1959.

RICK was at its peak intensity as it crossed 140W moving in a northwesterly direction at 10 knots along a path following PAULINE which preceded RICK through the area several days earlier. Satellite imagery suggested a weakening trend commencing on the 10th as the eye became ragged and filled with low cloudiness. Air Force reconnaissance began to fly into RICK at this time and made the first fix on the system at 100600Z. The weather officer on board the aircraft estimated the winds at 100 knots. A dropsonde released in the eye of RICK showed an extrapolated central pressure of 951 millibars.

The same forces, which caused the shearing, weakening, and a trend toward recurvature on PAULINE several days earlier, began to affect RICK. RICK also declined rapidly in intensity in the same general area 600 miles east of Hilo and at 111200Z was downgraded to a tropical storm. Twelve hours later, RICK was downgraded to a tropical depression. The remnant low level circulation was carried north toward the same area of low pressure which PAULINE moved into several days earlier. Satellite imagery continued to show the existence of a weak low level circulation for several days.

RICK's intensity was much greater than PAULINE's and would have created much larger surf along east facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands. However, because RICK turned north sooner than PAULINE, the significantly larger swell emanating from RICK passed well to the east of the state. The surf did rise somewhat, but nowhere near the heights experienced with the passing of PAULINE.

The Coast Guard received a report of a sailing vessel, which was en route to the Hawaiian Islands via the Panama Canal, as being overdue. Since the course of the vessel was not known, there was no way of telling whether PAULINE or RICK had a direct bearing on the vessel's being overdue.

October 23-30, 1985 (HURRICANE NELE)

The CPHC began to track a disturbance along the ITCZ near 10N 145W on October 20. The disturbance moved west along 10N and passed south of the Hawaiian Islands on the 22nd, showing signs of intensification. The CPHC issued its first advisory on Tropical Depression THREE-C at 231800Z. Poor satellite imagery made the system difficult to fix and classify using the Dvorak technique as TD3C was located near the western edge of the GOES- West coverage. Forecasters at the CPHC felt that TD3C was intensifying rapidly and, six hours later at 240000Z, upgraded 3C to a tropical storm and named it NELE.

NELE continued to intensify while moving on a more northwesterly course. NELE reached hurricane strength near 14N 164W at 251200Z as it turned to a more northerly course and followed 164W at a slow forward motion of 5 knots. NELE's behavior during this period was very similar to two other late season hurricanes: NINA in November 1957 and IWA in November 1982. Both of these hurricanes caused considerable damage to the Hawaiian Islands even though NINA turned west well before actually striking the islands. NELE reached its peak intensity of 80 knots at about 260000Z. During the next 18 hours, large swell emanating from NELE began to reach the southern shores of Kauai, where in the forenoon of the 26th, surf of 10 feet began to wash over the low beach roads in the Poipu area.

The steering flow over NELE was very weak as it drifted north and a trough in the upper level westerlies to the northwest of NELE caused great concern to the forecasters at the CPHC. The upper level pattern was becoming very similar to that associated with IWA's recurvature to the northeast in 1982. A hurricane watch was issued for the Hawaiian Islands early on the 26th. The next 24 hours were a period of watch and see as NELE continued to move slowly north.

NELE showed signs of turning to the northwest on the morning of the 27th, but this movement was uncertain as it was in an area of extremely poor satellite surveillance. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft flew into NELE at approximately 271500Z and confirmed that NELE had indeed begun to change course toward the northwest. The hurricane watch was subsequently canceled at 271845Z.

NELE now assumed a course of about 330 degrees with a forward speed of 10 kt. It had become a steady state hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 70 knots and moved across the leeward islands of the Hawaiian chain, passing about 100 miles west of French Frigate Shoals. The closest approach to Tern Island, where the National Weather Service maintains an automatic weather station, occurred at about 281600Z. The surface pressure recorded at this time was 1000 millibars and winds were reported from the southeast at 31 knots with gusts as high as 43 knots. The central pressure of NELE at this time was estimated by the reconnaissance flight using a dropsonde to be 985 millibars and surface winds at 75 knots.

Several fishing boats spent a rough night at French Frigate Shoals as huge southeasterly swell and seas churned the shallow waters of the reefs surrounding the island. One fishing vessel farther west near the Gardners Pinnacles, and more directly in the path of NELE, was partially disabled and needed Coast Guard assistance. Other fishing vessels near Maro Reef and Laysan Island had an easier time as they were in the weaker left hand semicircle of the hurricane.

NELE assumed a northerly heading near 26N 170W along 170W with the intensity fluctuating near 65 knots. One vessel located in the dangerous right hand semicircle reported winds of 70 knots and seas between 30 and 40 feet at 291800Z some distance east of the center. NELE was, at this time, starting to accelerate northward at a speed of 20 kt. Recurvature toward the northeast started near 32N 170W at 300600Z and NELE finally began to weaken. NELE at this time changed classification and became an extratropical storm and the final advisory was issued. The remnants of NELE moved into the shipping lanes near 40N 160W on October 31.

The CPHC issued 30 advisories on NELE. There were no reports of serious damages or casualties to ships. The fishing vessel that was partially disabled due to a broken rudder was the ALASKA OHANA. The tug MOANA HOLO enroute from Johnston Island to Honolulu provided the CPHC with several very useful reports near 19N 165W as she rode out the dangerous north semicircle of NELE.