An active Pacific hurricane season

The Pacific hurricane season officially finished on 30 November, after a particularly active few months. While the Atlantic was relatively quiet, the Eastern Pacific saw 20 named storms, making it all the way to “V” in the alphabetical list of storm names decided in advance.

Click here to read more about how storms get their names.

With 20 named storms, 2014 proved the busiest year in the Eastern Pacific since 1992, which holds the record with 24. There were two more storms that formed in the Central Pacific area.

The gallery above shows a range of images from satellites using information from the geostationary GOES West satellite. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses two geostationary satellites at all times, called GOES-East and GOES-West to monitor the United States.

The images are

Hurricane AMANDA – this composite image was made with infrared data from 0600 UTC on 26 May 2014. Amanda became the strongest May hurricane on record in the Eastern Pacific. Infrared imagery allows us to “see” cloud formations even when there is no sunlight, by detecting the temperature of the clouds.

Tropical Storm BORIS – another composite image with infrared data laid over NASA’s Blue Marble. The storm had by 4 June weakened to a tropical depression.

Hurricane CRISTINA – this is a false-colour infrared image from NOAA showing Hurricane Cristina at 1200UTC on 12 June. Enhanced infrared images use different colours to show the slight changes in cloud-top height more clearly.

Tropical Storms DOUGLAS and ELIDA – this is a frame from an animation using infrared data, when both storms were active together in the Pacific at the beginning of July. Here’s the video in full:

Tropical Storm Fausto and Tropical Storm Wali came next. Then a really exceptional storm developed – Hurricane Genevieve travelled the whole way across the Pacific eventually becoming Typhoon Genevieve. The image of Hurricane Genevieve, Hurricane Iselle, and Hurricane Julio all active together was composed using infrared data over NASA’s Blue Marble.

Hurricane Karina had weakened to a tropical storm by 1500UTC on 21 August, when it shared the Eastern Pacific basin with Hurricane Lowell. This is a GOES-West Infrared image shared online by the US National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center.

Hurricane Marie became the sixth-strongest Eastern Pacific storm on record. Pictured here in enhanced infrared imagery at 1400UTC on 25 August.

Hurricane Norbert in early September had an impact on local weather patterns, so that flash-flooding occurred in desert areas of the southwestern United States. This image from NOAA was taken by GOES-West on 8 September.

Hurricane Odile was one of three tropical storms active around the world at the same time on 15 September. It was a damaging storm for the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. This image using infrared data also shows Typhoon Kalmaegi in the South China Sea and Hurricane Edouard, far from land in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Polo spent most of its life at tropical storm strength, this was a visible light image by NOAA from 17 September, a few hours before it became a hurricane.

Hurricane Rachel is shown here in enhanced infrared imagery at 1330UTC on 29 September.

Hurricane Simon had weakened into a tropical storm, but still had strong winds as shown with wind speeds detected by ASCAT on 7 October.

Tropical Storm Judy was shortlived, before Hurricane Vance proved to be the final storm of the season in early November.

Many of the Eastern Pacific storms did not strike land – although they could still pose a risk to coastal communities through storm swells on the ocean. Hurricane Iselle made landfall in Hawaii in early August, as a strong tropical storm. This was a highly unusual event, and other storms also threatened the Hawaiian islands in the late summer.

Odile caused the most damage – it made landfall in Baja California as a Category 3 storm. At least five people were killed by the storm, and a lot of damage was done to tourist destinations. Thousands of people had to use temporary shelters to escape the storm. Of the 20 named storms of 2014, it will be the most remembered.

About the Author

Ruth McAvinia

Ruth McAvinia

Learning Zone Writer

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