Stab Magazine | The Pacific Hurricane Season Has Been Hell

The Pacific Hurricane Season Has Been Hell

Hurricane Willa’s coming in hot!

news // Oct 24, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Explosive rapid intensification.”

That’s how the Pacific’s Hurricane Willa has been described. She’s coming in hot.

On Saturday morning Willa became a named tropical storm with sustained wind speeds of 40 mph. By Monday morning, less than 48 hours later, it was a Category 5 storm with sustained wind speeds in excess of 160 mph.

She’s expected to to hit Pacific coast of Mexico this morning. A hurricane warning is in effect from San Blas to Mazatlán.  

“Residents should rush preparations to completion to protect life and property and follow any advice given by local officials,” said the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Mind you, it’s only been a couple weeks since Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle. That storm was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States in terms of pressure and was the strongest storm in terms of maximum sustained wind speed to hit the U.S. since Andrew in 1992.

More historical perspective: Willa is the third Cat 5 storm in the Pacific this year. In August, Hurricane Lane became the wettest tropical cyclone on record in Hawaii and second-wettest in the United States, behind Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It was the first Category 5 Pacific hurricane since Patricia in 2015.

Then, at the end of September, Hurricane Walaka stepped onto the dancefloor. Much like Willa’s show-up-and-blow-up approach, within 24 hours, Walaka had intensified into a major hurricane. While she was spinning, Typhoon Kong-rey blossomed into a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon. It was the first time since 2005 that two Cat 5 storms existed simultaneously in the Northern Hemisphere.

As surfers, we’re all a little bit sadistic when it comes to low-pressure systems. The lower the pressure the better. The sketchy issue is that these storms aren’t giving us the kind of wave-generating time needed to generate a proper swell. The classic formula for swell generation is wind + water + time. The windier it is over a bigger swath of ocean the better.

That’s why El Nino rules, and these spontaneous hurricanes are fucked. They’re different; they’re like a flash sale. Here today, coastline fucked tomorrow.

To see a storm like Willa grow so rapidly is troubling. It speaks to the issues of climate change that scientists have been championing for years now, and it debunks the surfer’s fallback argument that more storms in the ocean mean more waves. The swells from these intense, brief storms are more like a bump of coke, good for a couple hours but they don’t last.

Worst of all, the more storms the more we become desensitized to the violence. It’s just another superstorm, right? No. This is the real deal. This is our weather systems and ocean temps responding negligent human behavior.

Oh, and Tropical Storm Vicente is also currently lurking the Pacific. It looks benign today, but could be a threat tomorrow.



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