1997 Pacific hurricane season

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1997 Pacific hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed June 1, 1997
Last storm dissipated December 21, 1997 record
Strongest storm Linda - 902 mbar (902 hpa) (record), 160 knots (300 km/h) (record)
19
Total fatalities 256-426 direct
Total damage $7.6 billion (1997 USD)
(record)
seasons
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

The 1997 Pacific hurricane season was a yearly event in tropical cyclone meteorology. With hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in damage, this season was both a deadly and costly Pacific hurricane season.

Storms[change | change source]

Tropical Storm Andres[change | change source]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration June 1 – June 7
Intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min),  998 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Depression One-E formed June 1. The next day, it became Tropical Storm Andres. After a brief period of a normal track, Andres was picked up, becoming the first named storm to threaten Central America sine Simone in 1968. It then turned to the southeast and paralleled the coast. This was the first time any East Pacific storm had taken such a path.[1] Andres weakened to a depression and made landfall near San Salvador on June 7 and dissipated shortly thereafter. The only casualties were two fishermen who were reported missing.[1]

Tropical Storm Blanca[change | change source]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration June 9 – June 12
Intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min),  1002 mbar (hPa)

Blanca was a short-lived tropical storm that briefly threatened land. Tropical Depression Two-E formed June 9 and strengthened into Tropical Storm Blanca six hours later. It moved northwest and briefly threatened land on June 10 as warnings and watches were established. Then, a ridge of high pressure turned Blanca away from the coast.[2] Despite moving over warm waters, a weakening trend unexpectedly began, and Blanca was downgraded to a depression. and Blanca lost its circulation shortly after being downgraded to tropical depression status on June 12.[2] There was no deaths, because Blanca's impact was generally minimal.[2]

Hurricane Guillermo[change | change source]

Category 5 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration July 30 – August 15
Intensity 160 mph (260 km/h) (1-min),  919 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave that drifted across the shear-ridden Atlantic emerged into the Pacific Ocean on July 27. It organized into a depression July 30 and was named Tropical Storm Guillermo the next day. It quickly intensified, reaching hurricane status on August 1. Guillermo became a major hurricane August 2. It reached Category 4 intensity on August 3 before weakening slightly and restrengthening. The hurricane attained Category 5 strength August 4. Guillermo's peak intensity was 919 mbar (919 hPa) and 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph).[3]

Guillermo then weakened slowly, becoming a tropical storm August 8. It crossed 140°W and entered the Central Pacific. It weakened to a depression late August 10 but restrengthened back into a storm 24 hours later when it encountered a small area of warm water. It weakened to a depression for the second and final time August 15 and lost tropical characteristics early the next day.[3]

Guillermo's remnants recurved over the far northern Pacific. They were tracked to a point 500 nautical miles (930 km) west of Vancouver Island. The remnants hung on for a few more days and drifted south before being absorbed by a mid-latitude cyclone August 24 off the coast of California.[3]

Tropical Storm Ignacio[change | change source]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration August 17 – August 19
Intensity 40 mph (65 km/h) (1-min),  1005 mbar (hPa)

A depression formed from an area of disturbed weather on August 17. The depression organized into a tropical storm 12 hours later. Ignacio's location of tropical cyclogenesis was farther north and west[1] of where most East Pacific tropical cyclones form. Steering currents pulled Ignacio north, where it encountered wind shear and cooler waters. Ignacio lost tropical characteristics August 19. The extratropical cyclone was absorbed by Gulermeno and another extratropical cyclone.

It brought gusty winds to California coastal waters[2] before dissipating. Damage is at $50 million. The rainfall caused a power outages as well as the worst rain since Hurricane Kathleen in 1976. Ignacio passed directly over the San Francisco Bay Area which is where the worst effects were felt.

Hurricane Oliwa[change | change source]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration September 2 – September 12
Intensity 40 mph (65 km/h) (1-min),  1004 mbar (hPa)

A tropical disturbance that had meandered south of Johnston Atoll organized into Tropical Depression Two-C on September 2. Later that day, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Oliwa (Hawaiian for Oliver)[3] as it slowly moved towards the west. It crossed the dateline late on September 3 and entered the Joint Typhoon Warning Center's Area of Responsibility.

Oliwa passed south of Wake on September 6, where it caused heavy rains but no damage. On September 7, Oliwa started a period of rapid strengthening, becoming a typhoon September 8 and a Super Typhoon 8 hours later. Oliwa stayed at that intensity for over two days. While still a strong super typhoon, Oliwa passed near the Northern Marianas Islands. It then started weakening as it curved towards Japan. It made landfall as a minimal typhoon September 16. It quickly dissipated later that same day. Oliwa caused "damage and several fatalities" in Japan. [4]

Hurricane Linda[change | change source]

Category 5 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration September 9 – September 17
Intensity 185 mph (295 km/h) (1-min),  902 mbar (hPa)

A tropical depression formed south of Manzanillo September 9. It rapidly intensified, becoming a hurricane early September 11. It became a major hurricane later that day. The deepening continued, and Linda reached Category 5 intensity the next day. It broke Hurricane Ava's long-standing intensity record. That record had stood for over 24 years. Linda reached peak intensity on September 12. Linda's intensity record still stands as of 2005.[5] Linda then started weakening. On September 15, it was downgraded to a tropical storm. On September 17, it fell to a depression, and dissipated early September 18.

In California, Linda was responsible for 8 deaths and $68 million in damage. Five people were drowened in a jetty. Flash floods caused 3 deaths and mudslides destroyed millions many homes and $68 million in damage. The Southwest would get devastated again by Hurricane Nora weeks later.

Hurricane Nora[change | change source]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration September 16 – September 26
Intensity 135 mph (215 km/h) (1-min),  950 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Nora was the first hurricane to a significant danger to the Continental United States since Kathleen in 1976. Part of a tropical wave that contributed to the formation of Hurricane Erika in the Atlantic moved into the Pacific and organized into Tropical Depression 16-E on September 16 and Tropical Storm Nora that same day. Nora became a hurricane in a favourable environment September 18 while moving northwest. Its motion then stalled over an upwelling of cooler water that weakened it.[6] On September 20, Nora again started moving. It reached its peak intensity of 115 knots and 950 mb On September 21 and 22 it moved over the wake of Hurricane Linda. This weakened the storm pack down to a Category 1.[7] During this time, a trough developed that turned Nora to the northeast. This carried Nora over a favourable environment and towards Baja California. After restrengthening slightly, Nora made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Punta Eugenia and again south of San Fernando, both times as a hurricane.[8]

Nora stayed a tropical storm as it moved into the United States. Yuma reported sustained gale-force winds. Rains were heavy, sometimes exceeding the "annual" rainfall for the area. Nora weakened to a depression while over California, and it dissipated September 26.[9] Nora killed two people in Mexico. One was killed by a downed power line in Mexicali, and the other was a scuba diving in underwater currents. No one in the United States was directly killed by Nora. However, the California Highway Patrol attributed several traffic accident deaths to the weather.[10] There was extensive damage to areas hit by Nora. Waves ruined dozens of homes. Roughly 350 to 400 people were left homeless in San Felipe, and winds uprooted trees and peeled roofs from homes in Puerto Peñasco.[11]

Tropical Storm Olaf[change | change source]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration September 26 – October 12
Intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min),  989 mbar (hPa)

Olaf was a weak but persistent tropical storm that made two landfalls and took an erratic path. A tropical depression formed September 26, was upgraded a tropical storm at the next advisory, and immediately moved north. On September 29, Olaf made landfall near Salina Cruz. Olaf dissipated, and the remnants moved far out to sea. During later reanalysis, Olaf was found to be a tropical depression during most of this time, but at the time was considered dissipated.[12]

Olaf's remnants reformed, and started moving southeast on October 5. Olaf then turned to the north, and on October 12 made a second landfall near Manzanillo. Olaf dissipated, and the remnants moved out to sea where they did not reform again.[13]

There were a few reports of damage. Three fishing boats were missing near Acapulco, and there was flooding in Mexico and Guatemala. Most of Olaf's damage was from its first landfall.[14]

Hurricane Pauline[change | change source]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration October 5 – October 10
Intensity 135 mph (215 km/h) (1-min),  948 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Pauline was the deadliest storm of the season. Landslides and flooding caused by it killed hundreds of people.

Tropical depression Eighteen-E formed October 5 and briefly moved to the east before turning to the northwest. In a favourable environment, the cyclone intensified rapidly, reaching a peak of 115 knots and a central pressure of 948 mb. It weakened slightly before peaking again.[15]

Interaction with land weakened Pauline a bit, and the hurricane made landfall on October 9 in a thinly populated area. Accelerating, Pauline paralleled the coast for a day before dissipating on October 10 while over Jalisco.

There are no known damages from wind or storm surge. Heavy rains affected Oaxaca and Guerrero, causing catastrophic loss of life around Acapulco. Mudslides and flooding was widespread, leaving thousands homeless and at least 230 dead. The Red Cross reported that 400 were dead, but this was disputed by Mexican officials.[16] Pauline was Mexico's deadliest Pacific hurricane since Hurricane Liza in the 1976 season.

Hurricane Rick[change | change source]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration November 7 – November 10
Intensity 100 mph (155 km/h) (1-min),  973 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Rick was the first November formation since the 1991 season. A tropical wave acquired enough organization to be called a tropical depression on November 7. It moved north before a trough of low pressure turned it to the northeast. It was named on November 8, and was upgraded to a hurricane the next day. It reached its peak intensity of 80 knots and 973 mb November 9. Rick made landfall in Oaxaca— the same place devastated by Hurricane Pauline one month earlier— and quickly weakened, dissipating early November 11.[17]

There were no deaths from Rick. Trees were downed and recently repaired roads were washed out.[18]

Hurricane Paka[change | change source]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration December 2 – December 6
Intensity 65 mph (100 km/h) (1-min),  992 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Depression Five-C formed December 2, two days after the season ended. It strengthed into Tropical Storm Paka (Hawaiian for Pat[19]) while west of Palmyra Atoll. After drifting east, it reversed direction.[20] As it moved west, dry air and wind shear disrupted its development until it crossed the dateline on December 6.

After entering the Western Pacific, the environment rapidly became more favourable and Paka's strengthening quickened. It became a typhoon on December 10[21] and passed near Kwajalein with winds of 100 knots. It strengthened further, twice reaching Category 5 intensity. While close to maximum intensity, Paka passed close to Guam on December 17 and 18, causing "major damage". Afterwards, Paka encountered a hostile environment and had completely dissipated by the evening of December 21.[22]

Other websites[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

Tropical cyclones of the 1997 Pacific hurricane season
Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale
TD TS C1 C2 C3 C4 C5


* Central Pacific system