It likely doesn’t pose a threat to Hawaii — but it’s a wake-up call nonetheless.
The season’s first hurricane took shape Saturday in the eastern Pacific southwest of Mexico. Packing 115 mph winds yesterday, Hurricane Amanda was a category 3 system projected to strengthen today before weakening Monday. The cyclone was tracking to the west-northwest at 5 mph, and was expected to turn northwest today and tomorrow.
Hurricane force winds extended 35 miles from the center Saturday afternoon, with tropical storm force winds extending outward 90 miles.
“It’s a good reminder that the tropical storm season is starting to perk up,” said Pete Donaldson, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Honolulu. “It’s not over us yet, but our time will come later, and people should be ready.”
While it’s typical for such systems to begin off Mexico in the middle of May, it’s rare for them to get anywhere near Hawaii this early in the season, Donaldson said. Hawaii has not yet turned the corner into summer conditions and instead is in weather typical of winter, with deep troughs and thunderstorms — conditions unfavorable to hurricanes.
As of Saturday afternoon, Amanda had about 36 hours of favorable conditions for strengthening before increases in vertical southerly wind shear began to work against the system, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which predicted the hurricane will weaken to a tropical depression by midweek.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Season officially starts June 1. With El Nino conditions forming in the Pacific, forecasters are calling for a busier than normal hurricane season in the Central Pacific and a quieter year in the Atlantic Ocean.