Season’s first hurricane forms


It probably doesn’t pose a threat to Hawaii — but it’s a wake-up call nonetheless.

The season’s first hurricane formed Saturday in the eastern Pacific southwest of Mexico. Packing 80 mph winds yesterday, Hurricane Amanda, a category 1, was projected to reach major hurricane status sometime today. The system was tracking to the west-northwest at 5 mph, and was expected to turn north today.

Hurricane force winds extended 25 miles from the center Saturday afternoon, with tropical storm force winds extending outward 70 miles.

“It’s a good reminder that the tropical storm season is starting to perk up,” said Pete Donaldson, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Honolulu. “It’s not over us yet, but our time will come later, and people should be ready.”

While it’s typical for such systems to begin off Mexico in the middle of May, it’s rare for them to get anywhere near Hawaii this early in the season, Donaldson said. Hawaii has not yet turned the corner into summer conditions and instead is in weather typical of winter, with deep troughs and thunderstorms — conditions unfavorable to hurricanes.

As of Saturday afternoon, Amanda had about 36 hours of favorable conditions for strengthening before increases in vertical southerly wind sheer began to work against the system, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which predicted the hurricane will weaken to a tropical depression this week.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Season officially starts June 1. With El Nino conditions forming in the Pacific, forecasters are calling for a busier than normal hurricane season in the Central Pacific and a quieter year in the Atlantic Ocean.

Email Bret Yager at byager@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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