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Rare Mid-November Hurricane Roars to Life in Pacific

Projected path of Hurricane Kenneth over next 5 days
The forecasted path and intensity of Hurricane Kenneth over the next five days. (Image credit: NHC/NOAA)

A rare mid-November hurricane has formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean and could be followed by an equally rare tropical storm in the Atlantic basin.

Tropical Storm Kenneth became a hurricane today (Nov. 21) after first forming as a tropical depression on Saturday.

Though the official hurricane seasons for both the eastern Pacific and Atlantic last until Nov. 30, it is rare for storms to form this late in the year, as tropical ocean waters are cooler than they are at the height of the season in August and September and therefore less likely to fuel the storms.

The average number of tropical storms seen in November between the years 1851 and 2010 amounted to half a storm; the average number of hurricanes is only 0.3, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The last Atlantic hurricane to form in November was 2009's hurricane Ida. Hurricane Tomas was still swirling in the Atlantic as of Nov. 7 last year, though it formed in October.

The latest a hurricane has ever been observed in the Atlantic basin was the second Hurricane Alice of the 1954 season, spotted on Dec. 31, according to the NHC. The latest hurricane to hit the United States was a storm that made landfall near Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 30, 1925 (this occurred before storms received names).

Hurricane Kenneth, as seen in this GOES West satellite images taken today (Nov. 21), becomes the fourth tropical system on record to form in the eastern Pacific Ocean after November 18, and the second-latest hurricane after Hurricane Winnie on December 5, 1983. (Image credit: NOAA)

Hurricane Kenneth is currently 705 miles (1,135 kilometers) south of the southern tip of Baja California moving in a westward direction. It has winds of 80 mph (130 kph), making it a Category 1 hurricane; the NHC expects the storm to strengthen in to a major hurricane (those of Category 3 or higher status) in the next day or so. Because it is heading away from Mexico, Kenneth is not expected to pose a threat to any coastal areas. [Natural Disasters: 10 US Threats]

NHC forecasters are also watching a low pressure area that they say has a 60 percent chance of becoming a subtropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. Subtropical cyclones differ from tropical cyclones because they have broad wind patterns and their maximum sustained winds are located farther from the center of the system than tropical cyclones. (Tropical cyclone is the generic name for tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons.)

This system is also not currently a threat to land as it is located 875 miles (1,408 km) northeast of the northeastern Leeward Islands and is more in a north-northeastward direction.

If the system does become a subtropical storm, it will be named Tammy and will be the 19th named storm of the 2011 hurricane season. So far the season has been an active one, as predicted, with seven of those named storms becoming hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The season was predicted to have between 14 and 19 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes.

This story was provided by OurAmazingPlanet, a sister site to LiveScience.