Pacific Hurricane Season 2006: NOAA's Official Prediction

June 1, 2006

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued an official forecast prediction for the East Pacific hurricane season. The NOAA's 2006 outlook calls for an 80 percent chance of below-normal activity and 12 to 6 tropical storms, of which 6 to 8 are expected to become hurricanes, including 1 to 3 major hurricanes (Category Three strength or higher); an average season nets 15 or 16 tropical storms, with 9 hurricanes.

The East Pacific hurricane season began on May 15 (two weeks earlier than the Atlantic season, which began today) and runs, like the Atlantic season, through November 30. This is only the second year the NOAA has issued an official forecast prediction for the East Pacific hurricane season; 2005 was the first ever.

The East Pacific hurricane season generally garners less attention than the Atlantic season because most hurricanes in this region head away from the Mexican and Central American coasts and fizzle out over the Pacific, thus bearing little to no impact on cruise itineraries. A few, however, turn back toward Mexico's Pacific Coast, and popular resort cities along the Central American coastline; cruise ports such as Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Puntarenas have suffered storm damage in the past.

What is interesting to note is that historically, when the Atlantic experiences above-normal seasonal activity, the Pacific tends to experience below-normal seasonal activity and vice versa. Indeed, this year's Atlantic forecast is quite grim.

Editor's Note: What about Hawaii? Hurricane experts expect two to three tropical cyclones to occur within the Central Pacific in 2006. Typically, four to five tropical cyclones (one hurricane, two tropical storms and one or two tropical depressions) occur yearly. Although it is rare for a hurricane to hit Hawaii, it has happened.