LIHU‘E — The earliest tropical cyclone on record formed Saturday in the North Pacific, about 730 miles southwest of the Baja California Peninsula, but was expected to dissipate by tonight, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical Depression One-E was far from any land masses and far from the 140°W International Date Line that divides the North Pacific and the Central Pacific, the waters in which Hawai‘i is located. As of noon Saturday, maximum sustained wind speeds were near 35 mph with higher gusts, and the storm was moving northwest at about 7 mph.
The National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center could not be reached before deadline, but the National Hurricane Center told The Associated Press Saturday it is the earliest formation of a tropical cyclone in the eastern North Pacific since the satellite era began in 1966.
The basin’s season normally starts in mid-May, and hurricane season in Hawai‘i is usually June through November.
In 2019, four tropical cyclones formed in the Central Pacific, according to the CPHC, which estimates an average of four to five tropical cyclones appear every year.
The first to arrive in 2019 was Hurricane Erick July 30, which reached maximum wind speeds of 130 mph and triggered heavy rainfall on Kaua‘i and on Hawai‘i Island. Next came Tropical Storm Flossie on Aug. 3, with wind speeds of 60 mph, followed by Tropical Storm Akoni, which formed Sept. 4 with wind speeds of 40 mph. Tropical Storm Ema formed Oct. 12, with maximum wind speeds of 50 mph.
Akoni was the first tropical cyclone to be named from the Central Pacific list of names since Hurricane Walaka in 2018.
Tropical Depression Kiko formed Sept. 24, with max wind speeds at 35 mph. However, further study indicated Kiko dissipated before crossing into the Central Pacific basin, according to CPHC.
Every year in May the National Weather Service releases the Central Pacific hurricane season outlook. In 2019, the outlook predicted above-normal hurricane activity and about five to eight cyclones forming in the Central Pacific basin.
The NWS Central Pacific hurricane season outlook will be released May 20, according to NWS.
Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.