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Pacific ENSO Update

1st Quarter, 2012 Vol. 18 No. 1


The PEAC tropical cyclone outlook 1 for the first half of 2012 (the quiet half of the typhoon season) is for below normal tropical cyclone activity in the western North Pacific basin. The continuation of the La Niña weather patterns of anomalous low-level easterly winds coupled with anomalous westerly winds in the upper troposphere should continue to prevent the normal development of the monsoon trough, and inhibit tropical cyclone development through at least June 2012. Thereafter, the weather patterns should return to a state that is closer to normal, and the distribution of tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific should return to a more normal distribution. The extreme reduction and westward displacement of tropical cyclones seen in 2010, and to a lesser extent during 2011, is not expected to repeat during 2012. At the regional scale, above average cyclone activity typically occurs in Micronesia when the state of the Pacific climate is entering El Niño. Two agencies 1 that publish long-range outlooks of TC activity for the western North Pacific have not yet done so. These outlooks are generally available by April 1st, and will be reported in the next PEAC Newsletter.

At the time of this writing, American Samoa has not yet experienced the passage of a tropical cyclone during its ongoing 2011-12 cyclone season that began in November 2011 and will come to a close in April or May of 2012. The ongoing 2011-12 cyclone season in the Southern Hemisphere has been relatively quiet, with nine cyclones numbered by the JTWC and eight named by the respective cyclone warning agencies. All cyclones to-date have been in the South Indian Ocean. Tropical cyclone activity in the South Pacific has been very quiet through January 2012, with no cyclones in the South Pacific numbered by the JTWC or named by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centers in Nadi or Brisbane. It is anticipated that tropical cyclone activity will remain relatively quiet in the South Pacific (but not zero!) over the next several months, with any additional activity likely to be in the Coral Sea with reduced odds of a cyclone east of the 180° meridian. The PEAC is cautiously optimistic that American Samoa will not be adversely affected by any tropical cyclones for the remainder of its cyclone season. There could yet be one or two cyclones that form in Samoan waters bringing some gusty winds and heavy rains, and the northwest monsoon may also extend into Samoan regional waters a couple of times before the persistent southeast trades of the dry season return in May.

1The PEAC tropical cyclone forecasts for 2012 are provisional. The PEAC considers input from three seasonal outlooks for tropical cyclone activity in the western North Pacific basin: (1) The City University of Hong Kong Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, under the direction of Dr. J. C-L. Chan; (2) The Benfield Hazard Research Centre, University College London, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) research group, UK, led by Dr. Adam Lea and Professor Mark Saunders (; and, (3) an experimental typhoon outlook produced by Paul Stanko (forecaster at the Guam WFO).

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Page Last Modified: March 22 2012 05:05:13 GMT


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