As Hurricane Iselle bears down on Hawaii, it’s worth noting it’s one of four storms of hurricane strength in the tropical Pacific. It joins Hurricane Julio, Super Typhoon Genevieve, and Typhoon Halong among tropical weather systems with maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph.
Storms in central and eastern tropical Pacific with winds of 74 mph are called hurricanes, but the same storms are called typhoons in the western tropical Pacific. (Note: hurricanes in the central Pacific get different names from hurricanes in the eastern Pacific.)
According to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane expert at Colorado State University, today marks the first time in more than a decade there have been four storms this strong in the Pacific at the same time.
“The last time that this happened was on August 31, 2002,” Klotzbach said in an email.
The four storms that were typhoons/hurricanes at the same time in 2002 were, according to Klotzbach:
Hernan (East Pacific, max winds 75 mph)
Rusa (West Pacific, max winds 80 mph)
Ele (West Pacific, max winds 100 mph)
Sinlaku (West Pacific, max winds 125 mph)
Klotzbach said four storms of hurricane intensity were also observed in the Pacific on:
August 25, 1974
July 25 and 27, 1978
August 27, 1990
September 15, 1990
October 7, 1991
September 9-10, 1992
August 19-21, 1993
Warmer than normal Pacific ocean temperatures – and perhaps a fledgling El Nino event – are likely playing a role in this very active storm pattern.
Here’s a quick glance at what the current four storms look like from space, from east to west:
1. Hurricane Julio (maximum sustained winds 105 mph)
2. Hurricane Iselle (maximum sustained winds 80 mph)
3. Super Typhoon Genevieve (maximum sustained winds 160 mph)
4. Typhoon Halong (maximum sustained winds 85 mph)