The tropics are alive and well with several late-season systems spinning over different parts of the world right now.
Hurricane Walaka is in the central Pacific Ocean, centered about 660 miles northwest of Honolulu, Hawaii as of Thursday morning local time. It’s not moving toward any land masses and will continue moving away from Hawaii during the next few days. But back on Tuesday when the storm’s winds around the eye wall were 130-150 mph (Category 4), Walaka brushed by the small, remote Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, 825 miles to the southwest of the Aloha State. KHON-TV reported that a Coast Guard crew evacuated four U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel on Monday in order to get them to a safer place before the storm hit. So far there are no reports of significant damage.
In the western Pacific we have Tropical Storm Kong-Rey. It’s heading toward Japan’s Ryukyu Islands which include Okinawa. This adds insult to injury since this part of the world got slammed by Typhoon Trami last weekend, and it’s the ninth tropical system this season affecting Japan. Right now the storm’s winds are around 75 mph and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) expects winds to stay close to 70 mph through Friday afternoon local time. Heavy rain can be expected, too.
The latest JTWC forecast also shows the storm coming close to South Korea this weekend. This is bad timing for the LPGA UL International Crown tournament near Seoul. According to the Golf Channel, tee times have been moved up and golfers will play as long as possible on Friday to make up for time that might be lost this weekend.
Back on Monday Walaka was a Category 5 hurricane with winds of around 160 mph, and Kong-Rey was a Super Typhoon (Category 5) with winds at least 150 mph. It was the first time since 2005 that two storms of this strength occurred in the tropics at the same time.
Another storm drifting through the Pacific is Hurricane Sergio, several hundred miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas. It’s a Category 4 storm with winds of 140 mph and is only an issue for shipping interests. It’s nowhere near any land masses nor is it moving toward any.
The fourth storm is Hurricane Leslie in the western Atlantic, about 450 miles east of Bermuda. Large swells produced by Leslie will continue to affect portions of the southeast U.S. coast, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Greater and Lesser Antilles the next few days. The National Hurricane Center also expects swells to increase near the coasts of New England and Atlantic Canada on Friday.
It’s not unusual for storms to develop in either basin in the autumn. The Pacific hurricane/typhoon season is from May through November, the Atlantic is from June through November. The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is typically from mid-August through late October.