Tropical Cyclone Pali became the earliest central North Pacific hurricane to form in a calendar year.
22 October 2020
12 January 2016
By Mark Higgins and Sancha Lancaster (EUMETSAT)
On 11 January Tropical Cyclone Pali became the earliest-forming hurricane in either the Central or Northeastern Pacific — the area between the International Dateline and the Americas.
The official hurricane season in the Central Pacific basin is 15 May to 30 November, but when conditions are right, storms can form outside of that period. Winter storms are especially rare — only three have ever been recorded in the January to March period.
Pali became a tropical storm on 7 January, aided by El Niño-driven warm waters, as well as winds linked to El Niño and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (an eastward moving disturbance of clouds, rainfall, winds, and pressure).
Tropical Storm Pali fluctuated in strength as it drifted northwards, but a burst of intensification on 11 January turned it into the record-breaking hurricane.
Hurricane Pali was also interesting because it formed unusually close to the equator. On 13 January it was 2.7 degrees North latitude in the central North Pacific basin, about 300 km (186 miles) north of the equator.
By 13 January Pali was located more than 1,500 miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii and was no threat to land.
Figure 1 is the Metop-B infrared image of Pali, taken on 12 January at 21.45 UTC. The image shows the cloud top temperatures, with the colder clouds shown in blue to red (coldest tops). The eye of the storm is seen just to the east of the coldest clouds.
Tropical Storm Pali and Cyclone Ula (EUMETSAT Flickr)
Tropical Storm Pali in the central Pacific (CIMSS Blog)
Pali becomes an unusual January North Pacific Hurricane (Met Office News Blog)
Pali, Now a Tropical Storm, Became Earliest Central Pacific Hurricane on Record (The Weather Channel)
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