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Pacific ENSO Update

4th Quarter, 2009 Vol. 15 No. 4


In contrast to the near absence of tropical cyclones within Micronesia during 2007 and 2008, there have been several tropical cyclones which have affected the region during 2009. The tropical cyclone activity in the western North Pacific through October has been typical for an El Niño year; particularly the dramatic eastward expansion of the activity in contrast with the past two years. Several cyclones have formed to the east of Guam, and increased notable cyclones in the region began as far east as Kosrae. Through mid-October, the JTWC has numbered 22 cyclones in the western North Pacific. This includes 12 typhoons, 9 tropical storms, and 1 tropical depression. Of the 12 typhoons, four were powerful super typhoons. This is roughly on pace with normal values. It is a typical behavior of El Niño for there to be a greater number of the typhoons to become very intense (e.g., the eleven super typhoons of 1997). Additional super typhoons in the western North Pacific through the remainder of 2009 would cause the total count to exceed normal. The central Pacific has also seen enhanced tropical cyclone activity, which is another symptom of a typical of El Niño.

No heavily populated island has yet been severely affected by a typhoon, but some smaller outer islands have had direct strikes by a typhoon. The first of these direct strikes took place on the island of Alamagan, a small remote high island in the CNMI. The second direct strike of a Micronesian island by a typhoon occurred on the atoll of Ngulu in Yap State. See the individual island summaries for more details on the typhoon strikes.

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.

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