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The 1987 Central Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season


Tropical Storm FERNANDA crossed 140W and into the CPHC's area of forecast responsibility on July 26 at 0000Z. FERNANDA had developed about 48 hours earlier near 11N 130W as Tropical Depression NINE-E and subsequently attained tropical storm strength 24 hours later near 11N 136W. This system developed farther west than usual for eastern North Pacific tropical cyclones. Assuming the normal cycle of development, FERNANDA appeared to be in a location favorable for further intensification and movement toward the Hawaiian Islands. This, however, did not happen. A trough in the upper level flow to the northwest of Hawaii was moving southeast while FERNANDA was moving steadily west northwest.

The unfavorable environment created by the closing upper trough began to have its effects on FERNANDA by the 26th when it was near 13N 142W. The storm failed to intensify and showed signs of becoming sheared and elongated in a southwst to northeast direction. Maximum intensity of 55 knots was reached on the 26th when FERNANDA was 900 miles east southeast of Hilo. Air Force reconnaissance into the storm on the 27th verified previous estimates of maximum winds using Dvorak satellite classification techniques.

FERNANDA continued to weaken and at 281800Z was downgraded to a tropical depression when it was near 13N 150W. The last advisory on FERNANDA was issued at 311800Z as the remnant circulation near 13N 160W was moving west.

August 20-22, 1987 (TROPICAL STORM JOVA)

Tropical Storm JOVA entered the CPHC area on August 20 at 0000Z in a state of declining intensity. JOVA was already a week old and had been a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 kt near 15N 133W. The weakening tropical storm crossed 140W with max winds estimated at 45 knots and moved west, roughly following latitude 15N with a moderate forward motion speed between 15 and 20 knots. JOVA continued to slowly weaken and was downgraded to a tropical depression at 201800Z near 15N 145W. The last advisory on JOVA was issued at 220000Z as the dissipating tropical depression passed about 300 miles south of South Point, Hawaii. The remnant circulation moved west for several more days and was still discernible to the south of Johnston Island near 14N 170W on the 24th.

August 26-29, 1987 (TROPICAL STORM OKA)

Tropical Depression ONE-C was the first tropical cyclone to form in the central North Pacific during the 1987 season. It developed rather far to the south near 09N 147W out of a disturbed area along the ITCZ on August 25 with several ships in the vicinity reporting squally weather and southwesterly winds. The first advisory on TD1C was issued at 260000Z. Twelve hours later, the strengthening cyclone was upgraded to a tropical storm and named OKA (Hawaiian for Oscar) near 10N 150W. OKA remained far to the south of the Hawaiian Islands near 10N as it moved slowly west northwest and intensified with maximum sustained winds estimated at 50 knots on the 27th. On the 28th, OKA was located southwest of the Hawaiian Islands and began to feel the effects of troughing in the upper flow to the NW and started a rapid decline in intensity.

At dawn on the 29th, the first visual satellite picture of the day indicated that OKA was dissipating rapidly. The tropical storm was downgraded to a tropical depression and the last advisory was issued at 291800Z when it was near 13N 162W. By 300000Z, no trace of a remnant circulation could be seen in the satellite imagery.

September 21-October 3, 1987 (HURRICANE/TYPHOON PEKE)

Hurricane PEKE was the second tropical cyclone of the 1987 season to form within the CPHC area of forecast responsibility. Higher than normal sea surface temperatures, associated with a mature "El Nino" episode, were present south of the Hawaiian Islands, extending to the equator and beyond. These warmer than usual waters, together with the subtropical high pressure system being farther north and west than normal, helped induce an east/west near equatorial trough in the surface flow, which extended east from the perpetually warm western Pacific. Light winds and high humidity thus prevailed over a large region usually dominated by moderate trades. These conditions, normally found in the genesis regions farther to the east and west, made the ocean areas south of the Hawaiian Islands more conducive to tropical cyclone development.

A cloud cluster was already evident on September 15 in the satellite pictures over the waters south of the Hawaiian Islands within the trough near 10N 155W. There were also frequent reports from ships, among them the vessel PGDF, of westerly winds to the south of this active convection. This convective area drifted slowly west over the next few days and on the 21st near 10N 173W, satellite imagery clearly showed that a closed circulation had developed. The first advisory on Tropical Depression TWO-C was issued at 211800Z.

A few hours later at 220000Z near 11N 175W, it was determined that the winds around the tropical depression had reached tropical storm strength and it was subsequently named PEKE, the Hawaiian name for Becky. As PEKE intensified, it moved along a more northwesterly and later northerly track. At 231800Z, satellite pictures showed that an eye had formed near 15N 178W and a circulation had contracted. Satellite intensity estimates at this time indicated maximum sustained winds at 75 knots, well above the hurricane threshold of 65 knots. The numerical and climatological forecast guidance suggested Hurricane PEKE would move in a northwesterly direction and quickly cross the International Dateline. It would become Typhoon PEKE and move in the general direction of Wake Island. This, however, turned out not to be the case. It soon became apparent that PEKE was very reluctant to cross the Dateline and instead drifted slowly north along the 178W meridian between 13N and 23N between 5 and 10 knots with winds reaching a maximum for PEKE's lifetime of about 90 knots. During this period of northward movement from september 23 through 26, PEKE remained over 28C (82F) or warmer waters with favorable conditions for latent and sensible heat transfers from the ocean to help maintain its hurricane intensity in spite of the now quite considerable northerly latitude. Finally on the 27th at about 2000Z, the center of PEKE appeared to cross the Dateline near 24N moving on a northwesterly course with maximum winds still near their peak at 85 knots. The CPHC passed the warning responsibility for PEKE to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) at this time.

For several more days, Typhoon PEKE remained a large and vigorous storm just west of the Dateline at first moving northwest for a while to near 32N 170E at 0000Z on October 1 and then turning southeast to a point west of Midway Island while weakening.

The JTWC issued its last advisory for Tropical Depression PEKE at 031500Z when the remnants of the system was 400 miles west of Midway Island. A remnant circulation, within which ships now and then encountered near gale force winds, persisted for another 5 or 6 days near the Dateline before finally moving out of the tropics in a northeasterly direction across the Midway area on October 8. There were no known ship casualties associated with PEKE. The islands of Wake and Midway only received fringe effects, such as high surf and some gusty winds. Additionally, Midway Island and neighboring atolls and islets on the western end of the Hawaiian Island chain also received some gusty winds and heavy rain squalls.