History made as 3 major hurricanes churn in the Pacific at same time

Scientists credit unusually warm waters for an active storm season that produced the "historic" major hurricane trifecta.


Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena (left to right) when all three were Category 4 storms on Sunday. Note the Hawaiian islands between Kilo and Ignacio. Graphic: NASA

*Story updated at 9 p.m. Monday

Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena joined forces to make history this weekend as their presence marked the first time on record that three major hurricanes churned across the Pacific at the same time.

This while a powerful El Niño is still developing in the equatorial Pacific, perhaps helping to explain the active storm activity in heated surface waters spanning from Mexico to and beyond Hawaii.

Late Saturday through Sunday, all three were Category 4 hurricanes, with maximum sustained winds of at least 130 mph. (Major hurricanes are Category 3 or stronger, with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph.)

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak- 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ElNino?src=hash”>#ElNino</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/climate?src=hash”>#climate</a> <a href=”http://t.co/t4fdIZwhOO”>pic.twitter.com/t4fdIZwhOO</a></p>&mdash; Eric Blake (@EricBlake12) <a href=”https://twitter.com/EricBlake12/status/637729647246094336″>August 29, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Saturday night, Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center announced the news with a tweet that reads, "Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak - 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record!"

By Monday night, Ignacio, the middle storm located 365 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii, had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.

But Kilo, the westernmost of the three, boasted sustained gusts of 125 mph, and Jimena, the easternmost on a westward path between Mexico and Hawaii, boasted winds of 115 mph. Both were Category 3 major hurricanes.

The storms were not expected to strike the Hawaiian islands, but have generated large swells and storm surges.

Hurricanes gain strength in warm water, and the region’s storm season is particularly active during years when a strong El Niño warm-water event is evident.

Sea surface temperatures throughout vast portions of the eastern and central Pacific are 2 to 5 degrees above normal.

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