Renee Lewis / Al Jazeera America / Aug. 31, 2015
Three major hurricanes have formed in the Pacific Ocean simultaneously — an occurrence that has never before been recorded and is likely related to a strengthening El Niño weather pattern in the region, experts said.
Experts have linked warmer water temperatures from El Niño as well as climate change to stronger storms — and even an increased number of hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific.
Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena, all Category 3 and 4 storms, were all active in the Eastern or Central Pacific Ocean, Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center told Al Jazeera on Monday.
“Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak — 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record!” Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center said on Twitter.
Hawaii’s Big Island had braced for possible impact from Hurricane Ignacio, but it will likely track north of the islands and has weakened to a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, Feltgen said. On Monday morning, it was about 320 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii.
Forecasters warned there was still some uncertainty about its path, and authorities should continue to monitor the situation.
Hurricane Jimena on Monday had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and was 1,400 miles east of Hilo, Feltgen said. Jimena was a Category 4 hurricane but not threatening any land, he added.
Hurricane Kilo was also a Category 4 hurricane on Monday with winds of up to 135 mph, Feltgen said. It was already well west of Hawaii and about 530 miles south of the Pacific Island of Midway. No coastal watches were in effect from Kilo on Monday, Feltgen said.
Some experts linked the unusual weather event to the strengthening El Niño weather pattern being observed in the Pacific. This year’s El Niño could be among the strongest in the historical record, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
El Niño is a cyclical weather pattern that takes place in the tropical region of the Pacific Ocean and consists of higher-than-normal water temperatures in the central and eastern basins.