Friday, October 9, 2015

Alaska Is Kinda, Almost Getting A Hurricane

Click on this map to make it bigger and easier to see.
This shows the paths of hurricanes and tropical storms
that made it unusually far north in the Pacific.
Yellow parts of tracks indicate it was at hurricane status
green is tropical storm strength. From Dr. Jeff Masters'
Weather Underground blog.  
A hurricane this week managed to sneak much further into the northeastern Pacific Ocean than is normal, which means Alaska and British Columbia are in for a mean, mean storm later today and tonight.

Hurricane Oho cruised through the central Pacific and headed north during this past week.

Usually, hurricanes die out or turn into regular old storms well before approaching Alaska or other points in North America.

Oho indeed stopped being a hurricane and turned into a regular mid-latitude storm, but did so much further north than almost every hurricane in recorded history.

This, and the fact that the remnants of Oho are going to interact with a strong jet stream, mean winds to near hurricane force might hit some coastal sections of Alaska's panhandle.

Hurricanes need very warm water to survive, and the Pacific Ocean off the coast of North America, even off the coast of far southern California, is normally way to chilly to support tropical systems.

However, northeastern Pacific Ocean temperatures are at or near record high levels, so many hurricanes that manages to move north would hang on to their tropical characteristics longer than they otherwise would.

According to Dr. Jeff Masters in his Weather Underground blog, only two other hurricanes since 1949 - an unnamed storm in 1975 and Hurricane Ana last year got as far north as Oho.

Ana also took advantage of record hot water in the Pacific to latitude 36.3 North, which is about as far north as Monterrey, California. The 1975 hurricane made it as far north as the Washington/Oregon border, but like Ana and Oho, was well offshore at that time.

Both Ana and Oho remained potent and dangerous storms, though no longer hurricanes, when the hit the coast of North America.

Masters says another tropical system is forming in the eastern Pacific, and this one, too, has the potential to get much further north than most hurricanes off of the West Coast.

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