The Washington Post

Cristina explodes: Record early season hurricane activity in eastern Pacific

VIIRS day-night-band image of hurricane Cristina from Wednesday night (Colorado State)

The tropical Atlantic has yet to see its first tropical storm of the 2014 hurricane season, but the eastern Pacific has never witnessed storms so strong so early (in available records).

First, hurricane Amanda became the strongest May hurricane in the eastern Pacific on record, when its peak winds soared to 155 mph (high-end category 4 level) on May 25. Now, just over two weeks later, the eastern Pacific has given birth to the powerhouse hurricane Cristina whose maximum sustained winds reached 150 mph as of today (see the 11 a.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center).

“With Hurricanes Amanda and Cristina reaching category 4 status, this is the first time there have been two category 4 hurricanes through June in the eastern North Pacific basin since the beginning of the satellite era in 1966,” the National Hurricane Center writes. “Prior to Cristina, the earliest second category 4 hurricane was Hurricane Elida in 1984, which reached that threshold on July 1.

In 12 hours alone overnight into this morning, Cristina’s peak winds increased a phenomenal 65 mph (50 to 60 knots). The National Hurricane Center called the rate of intensification “extraordinary.”

Cristina at sunrise this morning (Via Brian McNoldy)

Cristina is expected to remain a major hurricane for another 36 hours before hostile winds and cooler ocean temperatures lead to gradual weakening.

While Cristina is stirring up some rough surf for the western shores of Mexico, it is moving away from land.

Track forecast for Cristina (National Hurricane Center)
Track forecast for Cristina (National Hurricane Center)

Forecasters have called for an active eastern Pacific hurricane season due to the expectation of El Niño conditions which elevate ocean temperatures (in the tropical Pacific).

On the flip side, Atlantic hurricane activity is predicted to be somewhat suppressed as El Niño often generates hostile wind shear (in the Atlantic).

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
Show Comments
Most Read

Heat Tracker

90-degree days year-to-date
Yearly Average
Record Most
67 (1980,2010)
Record Fewest
7 (1886,1905)
Last Year

At a Glance


54° /67°


53° /73°


53° /73°


54° /69°


56° /71°
Drop 20%


58° /68°
National Airport

Right Now

D.C. Area Almanac

Avg. High
Avg. Low
Rec. High
Rec. Low
Next Story
Jason Samenow · June 12, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.