May 14th, 2011 08:03 EST
Fifteen Deadly Storms this Hurricane Season: Are You Ready?
Sunday marks the official start of the 2011 hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific, a season which is expected to exceed the amount of named tropical systems from last year by twofold.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists are predicting an average number of tropical systems to develop in the Eastern Pacific this year.
The basin averages 15 tropical storms each season. Out of those, nine become hurricanes, with four reaching major hurricane status.
Fifteen named storms would more than double the total from last year. Only seven named storms formed in the Eastern Pacific in 2010, with three reaching hurricane status.
"Last year was... about as quiet as it can get," stated AccuWeather.com Western Expert Meteorologist Ken Clark.
"A strengthening La NiÃ±a can be partially attributed to the lack of tropical storms [last year]," reported AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Gina Cherundolo in her recap of the 2010 Eastern Pacific hurricane season.
A weakening La NiÃ±a, on the other hand, will bring the basin`s hurricane season back to normal this year.
"The water [in the Eastern Pacific] will steadily warm, which will lead to lower pressure," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck. Lower pressure will then open the door for the development of tropical systems.
"Since the pressure will remain slightly above average early in the season, we are not expecting a quick start," Smerbeck added.
There are clusters of thunderstorms currently streaming across the Eastern Pacific, but none show signs of future development.
The first tropical storm to develop in the Eastern Pacific this year will acquire the name "Adrian."
Hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific will run until November 30, which coincides with the end of hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.
The 2011 Atlantic Basin hurricane season does not officially begin until June 1. The earlier start time in the Eastern Pacific reflects how this basin typically turns active faster than the Atlantic.
On average, June 9 is when the first tropical storm is named in the Eastern Pacific. In the Atlantic, that date is July 10.
Hurricanes typically develop much quicker in the Eastern Pacific than the Atlantic. The average first date for a hurricane to form in the Eastern Pacific is June 24, but not until August 14 in the Atlantic.
Despite the Eastern Pacific being rather active, the majority of tropical storms and hurricanes never threaten land. A typical Eastern Pacific tropical system will head westward into open and progressively cooler ocean waters, dissipating in the process.
Occasionally, tropical storms and hurricanes will target Mexico and parts of Central America. Though less frequently, some tropical systems have threatened Hawaii. Hurricane Felicia approached Hawaii in 2009, but weakened below tropical depression status prior to reaching the islands.
Since records began, the cool water that lies offshore of California has protected the state from direct hits by tropical storms and hurricanes in every year but one. In September 1939, an unnamed tropical storm pressed onshore at Long Beach, California with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
Two other storms have moved into Arizona at tropical storm strength. The first was once-Hurricane Joanne in October 1972, followed by once-Hurricane Kathleen in September 1976.
No systems have reached the Southwest at hurricane strength.
By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com
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