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Pacific ENSO Update

4th Quarter, 2012 Vol. 18 No. 4


Tropical cyclone activity across the Pacific basin has been near normal during 2012. The 24 tropical cyclones numbered by the JTWC through October is near normal. Of these 24 numbered cyclones, 15 were typhoons, 8 were tropical storms, and one intensified only to tropical depression (TD) status. Two of the JTWC typhoons -- Pakhar (02W) and Sanvu (03W) – were deemed to have peaked only at tropical-storm intensity by the JMA. The 2012 typhoon season was characterized by a northward and westward displacement, which is usually typical of a La Niña pattern. Okinawa and the Philippine Islands were especially prone to typhoon strikes during 2012. Other notable areas where typhoons made landfall included Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and mainland China. Once again, tropical cyclone activity was low throughout the islands of Micronesia. However, some of the basin’s named cyclones began their lives as disturbances within Micronesia, contributing to abundant rainfall at some islands, particularly in the western half of the region (i.e., Palau, Yap, Guam, the CNMI and Chuuk). There were no direct strikes by any typhoon or tropical storm on any island in Micronesia through October 2012.

The tropical cyclone activity of the eastern North Pacific was near normal with 16 cyclones named by the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The normal annual count of named storms there is 16. A below normal number of eastern North Pacific tropical cyclones survived westward journeys to provide enhanced rains to the state of Hawaii. Several hurricanes took northward turns, affecting the Mexican coastline. The lack of the remnants of eastern Pacific hurricanes moving past Hawaii may be a contributing factor to very dry conditions occurring now throughout the state.

No tropical cyclones were named through October 2012 by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Hawaii. This is not particularly unusual, since there is an average annual total of only one named cyclone there. During an El Niño event, there are often two or more cyclones named in Hawaiian waters, and more of the Mexican-origin storms arrive in Hawaiian waters with some wind and rainfall still intact.

The following experimental forecast for the annual total of western North Pacific TC activity was issued by Paul Stanko (Senior forecaster, Guam WFO) on 07 October 2012: 2012 Weighted Seasonal Forecast: “This season is continuing to cool off a little more from August, but is still running a little hot for typhoons. Therefore, 2012 is now gradually falling into line with my assumption that this year would still be in the inactive period. …” For the Northwest Pacific, the final weighted forecasts are: Tropical Depressions: 28 (was 30 in August, 28 in January, normal = 31, varies between 20 and 44). Tropical Storms: 26 (was 27 in August, 24 in January, normal = 27, varies between 15 and 39). Typhoons: 17 (was 19 in August, 14 in January, normal 17, varies between 9 and 26), Major Typhoons (Cat 3 or Higher): 10 (was 10 in August, 8 in January, normal = 9, varies between 3 and 15, 7 so far). Within Micronesia, the final weighted forecasts are: Suspect areas which will later grow into Tropical Depressions: 18 (was 17 in August, 18 in January, normal 20, varies between 7 and 35, 12 so far), Tropical Depressions (25 kt or more in Micronesia): 13 (was 12 in August, 15 in January, normal 18, varies between 7 and 28, 8 so far), Tropical Storms (34 kt or more in Micronesia): 10 (was 9 in August, 11 in January, normal 14, varies between 3 and 22, 6 so far), Typhoons (64 kt or more in Micronesia): 7 (was 7 in August, 7 in January, normal 8, varies between 0 and 17, 4 so far), Major Typhoons (100 kt or more in Micronesia): 4 (was 5 in August, 4 in January, normal 5, varies between 0 and 10, 2 so far).

Tropical cyclone activity is usually enhanced throughout Micronesia during El Niño. In the eastern parts of Micronesia (e.g., Pohnpei, Kosrae, and the RMI), typhoons are almost exclusively associated with El Niño. Although conditions for several months have been on the verge of El Niño, tropical cyclone activity in Micronesia has been below normal. This continues an unusual quiescence of tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific basin and especially in Micronesia for at least the past 6 years. Because a transition to El Niño is still remotely possible over the next month or two, we cannot rule out the occurrence of one or two named tropical cyclones in Micronesian waters through January of 2013. Islands located in the western part of the region (e.g., Guam, the CNMI, Yap, and Palau) will have the greatest risk of a named cyclone passing close by or developing nearby.

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 Meteorological Agency (JMA), which is the World Meteorological Organization's Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for the western North Pacific basin. The PEAC archives South Pacific tropical cyclone names, track coordinates, central pressure, and 10-minute average maximum sustained wind estimates from advisories issued by RSMCs at Brisbane, Nadi, Wellington and Port Moresby. The numbering scheme for Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclones and the 1-minute average maximum sustained wind estimates are taken from warnings issued by the JTWC, which has a warning responsibility to its constituency across the South Pacific and South Indian oceans that overlaps the local centers. Tropical cyclone advisories for eastern North Pacific tropical cyclones are provided by RSMC Miami, and tropical cyclone advisories for the central North Pacific (140° W to the 180° meridian) are provided by RSMC Honolulu. There are sometime differences in the statistics (e.g., storm maximum intensity) for a given tropical cyclone between the JTWC and the local centers that are noted in this summary.

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Page Last Modified: January 15 2013 03:50:04 GMT


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