On Jan. 8, 2015, NASA was tracking tropical storm Pali as it headed 1,375 miles southwest of Hawaii. The Honolulu Star-Advisor predicted the storm would intensify overnight, causing a small swell to hit the south shores of Hawaii.
The Honolulu Star-Advisor reports that tropical storm Pali formed due to the natural warming of the Central Pacific Ocean. This El Niño condition interacts with the atmosphere and changes the weather all around the globe. Kevin Kodama, a hurricane forecaster, claims Pali is the third tropical storm to form in the Central Pacific during the month of January. The last one occurred in 1992, and another sprung up in 1989.
According to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground, tropical storm Iselle hit Honolulu in 2014, when a similar weather pattern formed. The storm came within 200 miles of the islands. After that, eight more storms built up in the Central Pacific, breaking the previous record of four in 1982.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center claims that this year’s El Niño is as strong as the one recorded in 1998. Those storm conditions were the most extreme since 1950.
The Honolulu Star-Advisor reported that California and other areas were drenched in early January. Due to heavy rainfall, cable cars in San Francisco were stopped and many motorists were stranded. Northern Arizona reports heavy snowfall as a result of these storms.
According to The Weather Channel, January is a rare month for tropical storms to develop in the Central Pacific. NASA named the current tropical storm Pali on Thursday afternoon, making it the earliest Central Pacific tropical storm in history. A moderate vertical wind shear has impacted Pali, which may cause it to weaken over the next few days.
NASA’s RapidScat instrument, which flies aboard the International Space Station, and Terra satellite are tracking wind and temperature data on the rare tropical storm southwest of Hawaii. On Jan. 7, 2016, the winds in the storm’s southwestern quadrant were measured at 67.1 miles per hour. By the next day, the depression turned into tropical storm Pali. The cloud temperatures measured between minus 70 and minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the storm’s center with thunderstorms all around.
Hurricane specialist Eric Blake says that Pali is the most southern tropical storm to form in the Central Pacific basin. He claims this formation is due to the warmer-than-average sea temperatures associated with El Niño.
The Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center observed another tropical depression off the east coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic earlier this week. The low-pressure system in the North Atlantic could develop into a subtropical storm by January 12.
The Weather Channel reports that with the official hurricane season ending in late November, the rare weather conditions resulting from El Niño may be only beginning. Pali is a rarity, but the next couple of weeks could prove interesting as far as weather is concerned.
More updates on tropical storm Pali will follow as NASA continues to track its progress through the Central Pacific. For now, forecaster Wroe, of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, says that because Pali is located in the deep tropics, ocean temperatures are warm enough for intensification. The easterly vertical winds, however, are shearing around 25 knots (28.7 miles per hour). The westward tilt and height to the cyclone and the continued interaction with the low-level trough may prevent this storm from building further. The chances that Pali will cause much damage is of little concern.
By Rowena Portch
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Weather: Pali Becomes Earliest Central Pacific Tropical Storm on Record
NASA: NASA Investigates Tropical Storm Pali’s Temperatures, Winds
Honolulu Star-Advisor: Tropical Storm Pali Intensifies
Image Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License