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Pacific ENSO Update

2nd Quarter, 2009 Vol. 15 No. 2


For over two years now, tropical cyclone activity in the western North Pacific has been below normal in almost every category (e.g., number of typhoons, number of very intense typhoons, and number of typhoons affecting Micronesia), and the tropical cyclone activity has been displaced far to the north and west of normal. This behavior is typical of La Niña (especially those La Niña years that follow El Niño years). Through April, there have been no tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific during 2009. This represents a continuation of below normal activity in that basin. Normally there are two or three named tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific basin during the first four months of the year. Some recent typhoons that have adversely affected Micronesia in the spring include: Typhoon Mitag (affected Yap on the March 3, 2002); Typhoon Sudal (affected Yap on the April 9, 2004); and, Super Typhoon Isa (reached its peak intensity west of Guam shortly after a prolonged episode of very heavy rain caused the Sokehs mudslide disaster in Pohnpei on April 20, 1997).

The nearly-ended tropical cyclone season of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) was also below normal in most categories. The 27 tropical cyclones numbered by the JTWC in the SH from July 2008 through April 2009 is one below normal. Of the 27 cyclones numbered by the JTWC, 9 reached hurricane intensity, and 18 were tropical storms. Two cyclones reached Category 4 intensity on the Saffir Simpson Scale. None reached the catastrophic Category 5 level. Continuing a trend of global and basin quiescence, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for the current SH cyclone season is far below normal (54% of normal) with the season almost over. One of the most notable cyclones of the current SH season was Cyclone Hamish. This powerful Category 4 cyclone moved southward just offshore of Australia’s east coast, causing some coastal inundation. The tropical cyclone warning center in Nadi, Fiji, monitored 15 tropical disturbances in its regional area of responsibility, which extends from the Solomon Islands eastward into the Cook Islands. Twelve of the fifteen disturbances intensified into what the Fiji Center designated as tropical depressions. Five of these tropical depressions intensified into named cyclones: Hettie, Innis, Joni, Ken, and Lin. Floods and mudslides associated with Tropical Depression 04F killed at least eleven people in Fiji as several towns and rural areas on Viti Levu were flooded. Cyclone Lin adversely affected Fiji and Tonga. On April 4, Lin passed directly over Tonga with winds up to 70 mph and heavy rains. Reports indicate that power lines were knocked down by high winds, and the heavy rains triggered minor flooding in Nuku'alofa. Most of the power lines in Tonga were either downed or damaged by the storm and numerous trees fell across the island. No one was injured by the storm, but significant crop losses were reported. The PEAC Center received no reports of any adverse affects from any of this year’s South Pacific cyclones in American Samoa.

The PEAC Center archives western North Pacific tropical cyclone numbers, track coordinates, and 1 minute average maximum sustained wind taken from operational warnings issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) of the U. S. Air Force and Navy, located at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Western North Pacific tropical cyclone names are obtained from warnings issued by the Japan Meteorology Agency (JMA), which is the World Meteorological Organization's Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for the western North Pacific basin. The PEAC Center archives South Pacific tropical cyclone names, track coordinates, central pressure, and 10 minute average maximum sustained wind estimates from advisories issued by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centers at Brisbane, Nadi, and Wellington. The numbering scheme and the 1-minute average maximum sustained wind estimates are taken from warnings issued by the JTWC. There are sometimes differences in the statistics (e.g., storm maximum intensity) for a given tropical cyclone among the agencies that are noted in this summary, but the JTWC values are given precendence when available.

Pacific ENSO Applications Climate (PEAC) Center
c/o NOAA NWS - Weather Forecast Office Honolulu
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Honolulu, HI 96822
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Page Last Modified: June 01 2010 22:44:36 GMT


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