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By WeatherBug's John Benedict, Dan Rupp, Molly Robinson and Richard Romkee
The 2022 Pacific Hurricane season was active this year with 19 named storms, ten hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. Uniquely, this year also featured two “crossover” storms, Bonnie and Julia which crossed over from the Atlantic Basin into the Pacific Basin.
The Atlantic Basin was expected to be quite active again in 2022 but ended up being closer to average with 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes. After Tropical Storm Bonnie crossed into the Pacific on July 2, no storms occurred in the Atlantic until the beginning of September which marked the first time since 1997 that no storms occurred in the month of August.
With 2022 coming to a close, let’s look back at some of the more memorable storms of the 2022 Hurricane season.
The 2022 Pacific hurricane season kicked off with a bang at the end of May. What started as an area of low pressure off the southwest coast of Mexico on May 26 later was identified as Tropical Depression One-E on May 28, further strengthening to Tropical Storm Agatha that same day. Agatha quickly strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane the following day and intensified further to a Category 2 hurricane that afternoon. Agatha measured peak winds of 110 mph and a minimum central pressure of 964 mb, or 28.37 inches of mercury. During the afternoon hours on May 30, Hurricane Agatha made landfall near Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca, with sustained winds of 105 mph. These winds made Agatha the strongest hurricane to make landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast in the month of May. Agatha brought heavy rain to southwestern Mexico, causing landslides and flash flooding, which caused 9 people to perish and 6 people to go missing in Oaxaca. In total, the estimated damage Agatha caused was about $50 million USD.
As Agatha weakened as it traveled northeast across southwestern Mexico on May 31, it interacted with an upper-level area of low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico. On June 2 northwest of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, this large low pressure system was designated Tropical Cyclone One. This system was rather disorganized, but still brought 11.9 inches of rain to portions of Cuba between June 2 and June 3. The heavy rain caused landslides and the worst flooding since Hurricane Alberto in 1982 as well as 4 casualties.
Tropical Storm Alex
The first system of the Atlantic season started out as the remnant low from Agatha as it drifted toward the Bay of Campeche and the Yucatan Peninsula in early June. Gradually the system began to organize as it moved northeastward toward Florida, being designated Potential Tropical Cyclone One. By June 4, this tropical system reached southern Florida. Many areas in South Florida saw 10 to 15 inches of rain, which caused flooding in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. While not classified as a tropical storm just yet, tropical storm-force winds were recorded in Miami and an estimated $104,000 in damages was caused across southern Florida. Late in the evening, a well-defined center was observed, and this cyclone was finally given the name Tropical Storm Alex as it headed towards the Bahamas. Alex brought between 7 to 10 inches of rain to the northern Bahamas and reached a peak intensity of 70 mph and a minimum central pressure of 984 mb, or 29.06 inches of mercury. As a post-tropical cyclone, Alex brought strong winds to Bermuda as well where a boat west of the country experienced 57 mph winds that resulted in the U.S. Coast Guard rescuing 3 people from the vessel.
The next named Atlantic storm was about a month later in early July. Towards the end of June, a tropical wave emerged off western Africa and was later identified as Potential Tropical Cyclone Two on June 27 due to the possible impacts to the Windward Islands. By the morning of July 1, this cyclone became Tropical Storm Bonnie as it became more organized with a defined center. Late at night the same day, Bonnie made landfall on the Costa Rica and Nicaragua border with sustained winds of 50 mph. Bonnie continued west across Central America and survived the crossover to the Pacific basin on July 2. Because its center remained intact, the storm kept the name Bonnie instead of gaining the next Pacific name Darby. Bonnie continued to strengthen and became a Category 1 hurricane on July 4 near Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and later a Category 2 hurricane that same day. This made Bonnie the third hurricane of the 2022 Pacific season. By July 5, Bonnie saw its peak intensity at a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph and a minimum central pressure of 964 mb, or 28.5 inches of mercury. Bonnie began to rapidly weaken and returned to a Category 1 storm on July 7 and later became a post-tropical cyclone on the 9th. In terms of damages, Trinidad and Tobago experienced heavy rain and flooding up to 6 feet as well as mudslides and rockfalls, but no casualties were reported. Bonnie brought heavy rain to Mexico and much of southern Central America and Colombia and a total of $25 million USD in damages was reported as well as 4 casualties in Nicaragua and 1 in El Salvador.
Early September brought a new threat to the tropical Pacific, as a new disturbance would begin to swirl along the southwestern coast of Mexico starting on August 29. This disturbance would become Tropical Depression Twelve on September 4, and Tropical Storm Kay a few hours later. The next day, Kay became a Category 1 hurricane while moving northwest about 300 miles west of Mexico. On September 7, Kay reached its peak strength about 200 miles west of the Baja California Peninsula, with maximum winds of 105 mph making it a strong Category 2 storm. During this time, Kay spread rainbands across western Mexico leading to mudslides which claimed three lives. Kay slowly curved back to the northeast as cooler water and wind shear gradually weakened the storm. Hurricane Kay eventually made landfall near San Rafael, Mexico, as a Category 1 hurricane on September 8, turning northwest back out to sea while slowly weakening. While Baja California suffered from mudslides, flooding and wind damage due to Kay, causing about $3.6 million in losses, no additional loss of life was directly attributed to the storm. As the storm moved further northwards, it spread rain bands and strong winds across southern California and Arizona between September 9 and September 11 before completely dissipating. Kay dropped up to 5 inches of rain on the southwestern U.S., causing flash flooding for many areas including Death Valley, interrupting a Los Angeles Dodgers game and tying up traffic on Interstate 5 but fortunately causing no injuries or loss of life.
Hurricane Orlene was the third major hurricane in the Pacific this year and reached Category 4 status with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph in early October. Orlene weakened to a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds before making landfall in southwestern Mexico on October 3rd by the states of Nayarit and Sinaloa. High winds were reported to bring down power poles and downed trees throughout El Rosario and heavy rains caused a landslide along the Durango-Mazatlan Highway. Up to five inches of rain was reported before Orlene dissipated on October 4th over the Sierra Madre Occidental. Luckily, no fatalities were reported but the storm did affect around 700 people and over 200 schools with $600,000 in damages.
The fifth named hurricane of the Atlantic season, Julio brought on significant impacts to Central America in early October. Julia was unique because of how far south it tracked in the Caribbean. Only one other storm tracked further south which was Tropical Storm Bret in 1993. Julia remained as tropical storm status or lower for most of its trek but was able to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane just before landfall near Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua, with 85 mph winds on October 9th. On October 10th, Julia weakened into a weak low pressure after it crossed the coast of El Salvador. Widespread flooding and heavy rain was reported over northern South America and Central America. A landslide led to 50 fatalities in Las Tejerias, Venezuela. Over 170 homes were destroyed in Columbia and 14 were reported to be taken by the storm in Guatemala. In total, 91 people were killed with at least $406 million in damages.
Hurricane Roslyn was the final storm of the 2022 Pacific Hurricane Season and the fourth major hurricane in the Pacific this year. Roslyn made landfall near San Blas, Mexico, about 60 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. Roslyn’s origins can be traced back to an area of low pressure that gradually began developing off the coast of Central America on October 16. The system slowly organized becoming a tropical depression on October 20, and then became Tropical Storm Roslyn later that day. Conditions over the Eastern Pacific grew increasingly favorable for intensification and Roslyn strengthened into hurricane on October 21. The storm then rapidly intensified on October 22 and became a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph. As wind shear began increasing and the storm’s circulation began to interact with land Roslyn weakened into a Category 3 storm before making landfall north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on the morning October 24 with sustained winds of 120 mph. The storm quickly weakened into a tropical depression later that day. Despite being the eleventh most intense Pacific hurricane to make landfall in Mexico, damage was minimal. Around 150,000 people lost electricity while around 5,000 homes were damaged. Even with minimal damage, Roslyn was responsible for four fatalities.
Hurricane Lisa was the twelfth named storm and the sixth hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season. An area of low pressure began developing on October 28 in the southern reaches of the Caribbean Sea. The storm was slow to develop as it moved northwest into the central Caribbean Sea, eventually becoming Tropical Storm Lisa on October 31. As Tropical Storm Lisa tracked into the western Caribbean, wind shear that was disrupting the circulation weakened allowing the storm to better organize as it approached Honduras and Belize. Before making landfall near Belize City on November 2, Lisa strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph. Lisa weakened into a tropical depression on November 3 as the storm crossed Guatemala and southern Mexico. Lisa produced flooding, a landslide, knocked out power and damaged several homes, but the storm did not claim any lives.
Nicole was the fourteenth named storm and the eighth hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the second storm to make landfall in Florida in 2022. Nicole began as a late-season subtropical storm about 550 miles east of the Bahamas on November 7. The next day, Nicole transitioned into a tropical storm as it moved over warmer waters and began getting more organized. Around midday on November 9, Nicole made its first landfall at Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, with sustained winds a touch below hurricane strength at 70 mph. As the storm passed over the warm waters of the Bahamas, Nicole gained hurricane status while making its second landfall on Grand Bahama with sustained winds of 75 mph. Numerous power outages and flooding was reported across the northern Bahamas and a storm surge around four feet occurred near Treasure Cay on Great Abaco. Nicole continued eastward, slicing across the Florida Straits before making landfall on North Hutchinson Island, Fla., just south of Vero Beach, Fla., with sustained winds of 75 mph. Nicole weakened into a tropical storm as it crossed the Florida Peninsula and made a fourth landfall northwest of Cedar Key on the Florida Panhandle. Storm surge flooding and beach erosion did significant damage to roads, residences and businesses along the east coast of Florida racking up $500 million worth of damage while over 300,000 residents lost power across Florida and Georgia. Nicole caused five deaths in Florida while flooding from nearly nine inches of rain took six lives in the Dominican Republic.
Despite being only an average hurricane season in the Atlantic, 2022 was the fifth costliest hurricane season racking up over $56 billion of damage, most of which can be attributed to Major Hurricane Ian. In addition, the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane season took over 337 lives. The Pacific Hurricane season inflicted over $54 million of damage and claimed 26 lives. This year is a reminder it can only take one storm to bring destructive winds and storm surge. If you live in an area that can be affected by a hurricane, it is always good to prepare for the season ahead by updating emergency plans, refreshing emergency kits and making sure flood and hurricane insurances are up to date.
-------- Image: Tropical Storm Julia crosses into the Pacific on October 9 after making landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 1 Hurricane. Image from NASA NOAA-20/VIIRS True Color.