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May-June 2016

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The 2015 Eastern North Pacific Hurricane Season: A Very Active Year

The 2015 eastern North Pacific hurricane season was very active. Of the 18 cyclones that reached tropical storm strength, 13 became hurricanes and nine reached major hurricane status (category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). The number of major hurricanes observed in 2015 was the highest since reliable records began in 1988. For comparison, the 1981–2010 seasonal averages are 15 tropical storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which measures the combined strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, was about 63% higher than the 1981–2010 median value. This ACE value is the highest observed in the basin since 1993, and the seventh highest since 1988. There were also three tropical depressions that failed to intensify, and another one that formed in the basin and became a tropical storm (Ela) in the central North Pacific. The genesis of most of the tropical cyclones was associated with tropical waves that moved westward from the Atlantic to the eastern North Pacific basin, where the ocean was anomalously warm and low wind shear prevailed.

The cyclone summaries are based on Tropical Cyclone Reports prepared by the author, Jack Beven, Robbie Berg, Eric Blake, Michael Brennan, Daniel Brown, John Cangialosi, Todd Kimberlain, Richard Pasch, and Stacy R. Stewart. These reports are available at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2015epac.shtml. Summaries of the storms passing into the Central Pacific (between 140°W and the Dateline) were provided by the hurricane specialists at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) in Honolulu, Hawaii.       

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