It looks like Hurricane Pali, an out-of-season tropical weather system lingering far southwest of Hawaii, has no plans to follow typical weather patterns.
The 2015 hurricane season in the central Pacific region officially ended Nov. 30, and the 2016 season does not begin until June 1. But that didn’t stop Pali from taking shape and strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane on Monday — the earliest hurricane on record in the central Pacific.
Pali had intensified into a Category 2 hurricane by Tuesday, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. At 5 p.m. Hawaiian time, it was located about 1,410 miles southwest of Honolulu and 790 miles south of Johnston Island, but forecasters said it poses no threat to land.
Only two other tropical storms are known to have formed in the central Pacific in the month of January since 1949, Hawaii News Now reports. Tropical Storm Winona developed on Jan. 13, 1989, and Ekeka, which developed on Jan. 28, 1992, became a Category 3 hurricane.
If Pali’s timing wasn’t bizarre enough, it reportedly set another record on Tuesday, when it moved closer to the equator than any other Northern Hemisphere cyclone on record.
“We really don’t normally see them this far south,” Bob Burke, a meteorologist with the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “There are no records of any system crossing the equator.”
Pali comes on the heels of a record-breaking cyclone season, fueled by a stronger-than-usual El Niño. El Niño — a weather phenomenon that happens when sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are warmer than usual — can wreak havoc on seasonal weather patterns across the globe, including bringing floods in the Americas, droughts in Asia and Australia, disrupted fishing and disease outbreaks.
“Whenever you have a strong El Niño, it makes it more likely that you have an out-of-season storm,” NWS forecaster Peter Donaldson told Hawaii News Now.
Pali is expected to continuing tracking south and hang on to its hurricane status through Thursday.
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