‘Record breaking’ tropical cyclone season continues


With a little while to go before our own storm season really gets going, it has so far been a very active and even record-breaking year in the Pacific ocean.

With several recent devastating storms including Typhoon Soudelor and Typhoon Goni in the news recently, the UK’s Met Office provides us with a summary of what the current tropical cyclone season in the Pacific has given us so far:

  • 15 tropical cyclones passing across the Northern Hemisphere have reached category 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale – 6 more than the previous record
  • Six hurricanes have tracked across the central Pacific region – more than any other year
  • Three north Pacific hurricanes have cross the International Dateline – more than any other year
  • Three Cat. 4 hurricanes have occurred simultaneously at the same time in Pacific east of the International Dateline for the first time in history

Is this season unusual? A key contributing factor to this years extremeness has been the strong El Niño that has developed (the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation – a cyclical change in ocean temperatures). It is believed that the current trend of unusually high activity within the Pacific region will likely continue. Conversely, the El Niño cycle also implies that conditions over the Atlantic should result in a hurricane season less active than usual.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Etau is causing devastating floods and large-scale evacuations in Japan.

Statistics on recent northern hemisphere tropical cyclone activity are courtesy of Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University (@philklotzbach).