A mature hurricane, featuring a circular cloud mass with a small, well-defined eye in the center, approaches Mexico from the southwest.
Hurricane Jova of 2011, one of the most damaging Category 3 Pacific hurricanes, near peak intensity on October 10

Category 3 is the third-highest classification on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale, and categorizes tropical cyclones with 1-minute maximum sustained winds between 96 knots (110 mph; 178 km/h; 49 m/s) and 112 knots (129 mph; 207 km/h; 58 m/s). Tropical cyclones that attain such winds and move over land while maintaining those winds are capable of causing severe damage to human lives and infrastructure. From 1949 to 2018, a total of 82 recorded Pacific hurricanes have peaked at Category 3 strength within the Northeast Pacific tropical cyclone basin, which is denoted as the part of the Pacific Ocean north of the equator and east of the International Date Line. This does not include storms that also attained Category 4 or 5 status on the scale.

The development of Category 3 hurricanes in the Northeast Pacific basin is influenced by many factors. During the Northern Hemisphere winter and spring months of December to April, sea surface temperatures in the tropics are usually too low to support tropical cyclogenesis. Furthermore, from January to April, the North Pacific High and Aleutian Low induce strong vertical wind shear and unfavorable conditions that serve to prevent the development of hurricanes. These effects are reduced or even disappear during hurricane season from May to November, when sea surface temperatures are also high enough to support tropical cyclogenesis; the bulk of recorded Category 3 hurricanes developed during June to October. Global weather patterns may also influence hurricane development in the Northeast Pacific. El Niño events result in increased numbers of powerful hurricanes through weaker wind shear and higher sea surface temperatures within the basin, while La Niña events reduce the number of such hurricanes through the opposite.

Background

Tracks of all known Category 3 Pacific hurricanes from 1970–2015 in the Northeast Pacific basin.
Tracks of all known Category 3 Pacific hurricanes from 1949–2015 in the Northeast Pacific basin

On the Saffir–Simpson scale, a hurricane reaches Category 3 status when it attains maximum sustained winds of between 96 knots (110 mph; 178 km/h; 49 m/s) and 112 knots (129 mph; 207 km/h; 58 m/s).[1] The National Hurricane Center (NHC) takes sustained winds to be the average wind speed measured over the period of one minute at the height of 10 metres (33 ft) above the ground.[2] When a hurricane reaches Category 3 intensity, it is termed a "major hurricane" by the NHC, though this term is also used to describe hurricanes at Category 4 or 5 intensity.[3] Should a Category 3 hurricane make landfall, its strongest winds can cause very severe damage to human infrastructure, with debris carried by the winds capable of bringing injury or death to humans and animals.[1]

The Northeast Pacific tropical cyclone basin is defined as the region of the Pacific Ocean north of the equator and east of the International Date Line. The Northeast Pacific is further divided into two sub-basins, namely the east and central Pacific. The east Pacific runs east of the 140th meridian west, and tropical cyclones occurring there are warned upon by the National Hurricane Center, the current Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for that area. The central Pacific, running from the 140th meridian west to the International Date Line, currently has the Central Pacific Hurricane Center as its RSMC.[4] Tropical cyclones are generally much rarer in the central Pacific than in the east Pacific, with an average of just four to five storms forming or moving into the central Pacific compared to around 15 for the east Pacific.[5][6] All tropical cyclones recorded by past and present RSMCs of the Northeast Pacific basin since 1949 are listed in the Northeast and North Central Pacific hurricane database (HURDAT), which is compiled and maintained by the National Hurricane Center.[7][8]

Before 1970, tropical cyclones within the Northeast Pacific were classified into three categories: tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane; these were assigned intensities of 30 mph (45 km/h), 50 mph (85 km/h), and 85 mph (140 km/h) respectively. Exceptions to these rules would be storms that affected humans and as such humans were able to measure or estimate wind speeds or pressure data.[7] Due to this lack of specific intensity records, there has been only one confirmed Category 3 hurricane prior to 1970.[8]

Climatology

A small, intense hurricane in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Hurricane Ekeka of 1992 near peak intensity on February 2. Ekeka is the only Category 3 Pacific hurricane to develop outside of the normal dates of the Pacific hurricane season.

Hurricane season in the Northeast Pacific tropical cyclone basin begins on May 15 in the east Pacific and June 1 in the central Pacific, and ends on November 30.[9] Since 1949, a total of 82 Category 3 hurricanes have developed in the Northeast Pacific basin. Only one has occurred in the off-season: Hurricane Ekeka of 1992, which peaked in February. Only one Category 3 hurricane has reached that intensity in May. A total of 7 have done so in June, 20 in July, 24 in August, 14 in September, and another 15 in October. None have done so in November.[8]

The formation and development of tropical cyclones, termed tropical cyclogenesis, requires high sea surface temperatures of at least 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) and low vertical wind shear. When these conditions are met, a pre-existing tropical disturbance – usually a tropical wave – can develop into a tropical cyclone, provided the disturbance is far enough from the Equator to experience a sufficiently strong Coriolis force which is responsible for the counterclockwise rotation of hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere.[10] During the winter and spring months of December to April, sea surface temperatures in the tropics are usually too low to support development. Also, the presence of a semi-permanent high-pressure area known as the North Pacific High in the eastern Pacific greatly suppresses formation of tropical cyclones in the winter, as the North Pacific High results in vertical wind shear that causes environmental conditions to be unconducive to tropical cyclone formation. Another factor preventing tropical cyclones from forming during the winter is the presence of a semi-permanent low-pressure area called the Aleutian Low between January and April. Its effects in the central Pacific near the 160th meridian west cause tropical waves that form in the area to drift northward into the Gulf of Alaska and dissipate or become extratropical. Its retreat in late-April allows the warmth of the Pacific High to meander in, bringing its powerful clockwise wind circulation with it. The Intertropical Convergence Zone departs southward in mid-May permitting the formation of the earliest tropical waves,[11] coinciding with the start of the eastern Pacific hurricane season on May 15.[9] During summer and autumn, sea surface temperatures rise further to reach near 29 °C (84 °F) in July and August, well above the 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) threshold for tropical cyclogenesis. This allows for hurricanes developing during that time to strengthen significantly.[11]

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation also influences the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the Northeast Pacific basin. During years with the existence of an El Niño event, sea surface temperatures increase in the Northeast Pacific and average vertical wind shear decreases, resulting in an increase in activity; the opposite happens in the Atlantic basin during El Niño, where increased wind shear creates an unfavorable environment for tropical cyclone formation.[12] Contrary to El Niño, La Niña increases wind shear and decreases sea surface temperatures over the eastern Pacific, while reducing wind shear and increasing sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic.[11]

Within the Northeast Pacific, tropical cyclones generally head west out into the open Pacific Ocean, steered by the westward trade winds. Closer to the end of the season, however, some storms are steered northwards or northeastwards around the subtropical ridge nearer the end of the season, and may bring impacts to the western coasts of Mexico and occasionally even Central America. In the central Pacific basin, the North Pacific High keeps tropical cyclones away from the Hawaiian Islands by forcing them southwards.[11] Combined with cooler waters around the Hawaiian Islands that tend to weaken approaching tropical cyclones, this makes direct impacts on the Hawaiian Islands by tropical cyclones rare.[13]

Systems

Key
  • discontinuous duration Discontinuous duration (weakened below Category 3 then restrengthened to that classification at least once)
  • intensified further in another basin Intensified past Category 3 intensity after exiting basin
  • made landfall there Storm made landfall, see below for further information
  • not at peak intensity Pressure listed was not at peak intensity[nb 1]
Name Dates as a
Category 3 hurricane[nb 2]
Duration
(hours)
Sustained
wind speeds
Pressure Areas affected Deaths Damage
(USD)[nb 3]
Refs
Olivia October 14, 1967 6 125 mph (205 km/h) 939 hPa (27.73 inHg) Baja California Surmade landfall there 2 N/A [8][15]
Francene July 19–20, 1971 24 115 mph (185 km/h) 991 hPa (29.26 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][16]
Ilsa August 3, 1971 12 115 mph (185 km/h) 978 hPa (28.88 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][16]
Monica September 1–2, 1971 18 115 mph (185 km/h) 1,005 hPa (29.68 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][16]
Olivia[nb 4] September 25–26, 1971discontinuous duration 12 115 mph (185 km/h) 948 hPa (27.99 inHg) Baja California Peninsulamade landfall there, Southwestern United States N/A $250 thousand [8][16][17]
Priscilla October 10–11, 1971 24 125 mph (205 km/h) 951 hPa (28.08 inHg) Nayaritmade landfall there N/A $3.68 million [8][16][18]
Fernanda August 24, 1972 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 948 hPa (27.99 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][19]
Gwen August 27–28, 1972 30 125 mph (205 km/h) 941 hPa (27.79 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][19]
Hyacinth August 31–September 1, 1972 30 125 mph (205 km/h) 962 hPa (28.41 inHg) not at peak intensity California N/A N/A [8][19]
Connie June 14, 1974 6 125 mph (205 km/h) 942 hPa (27.82 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][20]
Ione August 25, 1974 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 954 hPa (28.17 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [21][20]
Carlotta July 5–6, 1975 48 125 mph (205 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Olivia October 25, 1975 6 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Sinaloamade landfall there (particularly Mazatlán), Nayarit, Durango, Jalisco 30 $20 million [8][22]
Hyacinth August 10–11, 1976 30 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Daniel June 30–July 1, 1978 30 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Gilma July 16, 1978 6 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Dolores July 20–21, 1979discontinuous duration 18 120 mph (195 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Fefa August 23, 1979 6 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Agatha June 12, 1980 6 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Javier August 25, 1980 18 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Norma October 10–11, 1981 24 125 mph (205 km/h) Unknown Sinaloamade landfall there, Texas, Oklahoma 6 $74 million [8][23][24]
Daniel July 11–12, 1982 24 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Hawaiian Islands N/A N/A [8]
Gilma July 29–30, 1982 24 125 mph (205 km/h) Unknown Big Island N/A N/A [8]
John August 6–8, 1982 36 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Sergio October 17–18, 1982 48 125 mph (205 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Lorena September 8, 1983 12 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Guerrero, Colima 7 $33 thousand [8][25]
Manuel September 17, 1983 12 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Baja California, Southwestern United States N/A N/A [8]
Priscilla October 4, 1983 18 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Southwestern United States N/A N/A [8]
Genevieve July 10–11, 1984 12 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Baja California Peninsulamade landfall there N/A N/A [8]
Keli August 20, 1984 6 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Johnston Atoll N/A N/A [8]
Polo October 1–2, 1984 24 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown Baja California Peninsulamade landfall there N/A N/A [8]
Blanca June 13–14, 1985 30 120 mph (195 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Dolores July 1, 1985 12 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Sandra September 8–9, 1985 18 125 mph (205 km/h) 972 hPa (28.70 inHg) not at peak intensity No land areas N/A N/A [8][26]
Terry September 20–21, 1985discontinuous duration 12 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Xina October 29, 1985 6 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Hilary August 3–4, 1987 24 120 mph (195 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Otis September 22–24, 1987discontinuous duration 36 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [8]
Uleki August 31–September 3, 1988 72 120 mph (195 km/h) Unknown Hawaii 2 N/A [27]
Ismael August 19–20, 1989 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) Guerrero, Colima 3 N/A [28][29]
Kiko August 26–27, 1989 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) Baja California Surmade landfall there, Sonora N/A N/A [30]
Iselle July 24–26, 1990 54 120 mph (195 km/h) 958 hPa (28.29 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [31]
Julio August 21–22, 1990 24 115 mph (185 km/h) 960 hPa (28.35 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [32]
Carlos June 23–25, 1991 54 120 mph (195 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [33]
Fefa August 2, 1991 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 959 hPa (28.32 inHg) Hawaii N/A N/A [34]
Linda October 5–6, 1991 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 957 hPa (28.26 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [35]
Ekeka February 2, 1992 12 115 mph (185 km/h) Unknown No land areas N/A N/A [36]
Darby July 6, 1992 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 968 hPa (28.59 inHg) Guerrero 3 N/A [37]
Winifred October 9, 1992 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 960 hPa (28.35 inHg) Colimamade landfall there, Michoacán, Guerrero 3 $5 million [38]
Eugene July 18–20, 1993 66 125 mph (205 km/h) 948 hPa (27.99 inHg) Hawaii 1 N/A [39][40]
Hilary August 21–22, 1993 24 120 mph (195 km/h) 957 hPa (28.26 inHg) Baja California Peninsulamade landfall there, Sonoramade landfall there, California, Iowa N/A N/A [41]
Fausto September 12, 1996 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) Baja California Surmade landfall there, Sinaloamade landfall there, Texas 1 $800 thousand [42][43]
Enrique July 14, 1997 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 960 hPa (28.35 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [44]
Darby July 25–28, 1998discontinuous duration 48 115 mph (185 km/h) 958 hPa (28.29 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [45]
Georgette August 14, 1998 12 115 mph (185 km/h) 960 hPa (28.35 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [46]
Lester October 22, 1998 12 115 mph (185 km/h) 965 hPa (28.50 inHg) Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras 2 N/A [47][48][49]
Beatriz July 12–14, 1999 36 120 mph (195 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [50]
Daniel July 25–28, 2000discontinuous duration 60 125 mph (205 km/h) 954 hPa (28.17 inHg) Hawaii N/A N/A [51]
Alma May 30, 2002 12 115 mph (185 km/h) 960 hPa (28.35 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [52]
Ele August 29–30, 2002intensified further in another basin 6 125 mph (205 km/h) 945 hPa (27.91 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [53]
Darby July 29, 2004 12 120 mph (195 km/h) 957 hPa (28.26 inHg) Hawaii N/A N/A [54]
Jova September 19–21, 2005 60 125 mph (205 km/h) 951 hPa (28.08 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [55]
Bud July 13, 2006 18 125 mph (205 km/h) 953 hPa (28.14 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [56]
Ileana August 23–24, 2006 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) Baja California Sur 1 N/A [57][58]
Lane September 16, 2006 18 125 mph (205 km/h) 952 hPa (28.11 inHg) Guerrero, Michoacán, Colima, Jalisco, Sinaloamade landfall there, Texas 4 $112 million [59][60][61]
Hernan August 9–10, 2008 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 956 hPa (28.23 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [62]
Guillermo August 15, 2009 18 125 mph (205 km/h) 954 hPa (28.17 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [63]
Neki October 21–22, 2009 24 125 mph (205 km/h) 950 hPa (28.05 inHg) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument N/A N/A [64]
Darby June 25–26, 2010 30 120 mph (195 km/h) 959 hPa (28.32 inHg) Chiapas N/A N/A [65]
Jova October 10–11, 2011 30 125 mph (205 km/h) 955 hPa (28.20 inHg) Colima, Jaliscomade landfall there 9 $204 million [66][67][68][69]
Bud June 25, 2012 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 961 hPa (28.38 inHg) Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco N/A N/A [70]
Daniel July 8, 2012 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 961 hPa (28.38 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [71]
Miriam September 24–25, 2012 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 959 hPa (28.32 inHg) Baja California Sur, Texas N/A N/A [72]
Paul October 15–16, 2012 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 959 hPa (28.32 inHg) Baja California Peninsula, Sonora, Sinaloa, Revillagigedo Islands N/A $15.5 million [73]
Raymond October 21–22, 2013 18 125 mph (205 km/h) 951 hPa (28.08 inHg) Guerrero, Michoacán N/A N/A [74]
Genevieve August 7, 2014intensified further in another basin 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 965 hPa (28.50 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [75]
Julio August 8, 2014 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 960 hPa (28.35 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A [76]
Norbert September 6, 2014 12 125 mph (205 km/h) 950 hPa (28.05 inHg) Colima, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Baja California Peninsula, Southwestern United States 5 $27.7 million [77][78][79][80][81][82]
Linda September 8–9, 2015 18 125 mph (205 km/h) 950 hPa (28.05 inHg) Sinaloa, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, Revillagigedo Islands, Southwestern United States 22 $3.73 million [83][84][85][86][87][88][89][90]
Darby July 16–17, 2016 18 120 mph (195 km/h) 958 hPa (28.29 inHg) Hawaiimade landfall there N/A N/A [91]
Eugene July 9, 2017 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 966 hPa (28.53 inHg) Southern California N/A N/A [92]
Otis September 18, 2017 6 115 mph (185 km/h) 965 hPa (28.50 inHg) No land areas N/A N/A
Landfalls by month[8]
Month Number of storms
July
2
August
4
September
4
October
8

Of the 82 Category 3 hurricanes in the east and central Pacific, a total of 14 made landfall while still a tropical cyclone, collectively resulting in 18 landfalls.[8] As tropical cyclones approach land, they tend to weaken due to land interaction, cooler waters, shallower waters due to shelving, increased vertical wind shear, or dry air.[94] As such, only four of these 14 hurricanes have made landfall while still at Category 3 intensity: Olivia of 1967, Olivia of 1975, Kiko of 1989, and Lane of 2006. Only three made more than one landfall during their lifespan: Hilary of 1993, which made three landfalls, as well as Olivia of 1967 and Fausto of 1996, which made two landfalls each. Only two years – 1971 and 1984 – saw more than one Category 3 hurricane make landfall, though in neither year any of those Category 3 hurricanes made landfall as hurricanes.[8] In the following table, dates where storms made landfall are listed next to the landfall locations.[nb 2]

Name Year Category 3 Category 2 Category 1 Tropical storm Tropical depression Refs
Olivia 1967 Baja California Sur (October 14)  —  — Baja California Sur (October 13)  — [15]
Olivia 1971  —  —  —  — Baja California Sur (September 30) [16]
Priscilla 1971  —  —  — Nayarit (October 12)  — [16]
Olivia 1975 Sinaloa (October 25)  —  —  —  — [22]
Norma 1981  — Sinaloa (October 12)  —  —  — [23]
Genevieve 1984  —  —  —  — Baja California Sur (July 14) [95]
Polo 1984  —  —  —  — Baja California Sur (October 3) [95]
Kiko 1989 Baja California Sur (August 27)  —  —  —  — [30]
Winifred 1992  — Colima (October 9)  —  —  — [38]
Hilary 1993  —  —  — Baja California Sur (×2, both on August 25) Sonora (August 26) [41]
Fausto 1996  —  — Baja California Sur (September 13), Sinaloa (September 14)  —  — [42]
Lane 2006 Sinaloa (September 16)  —  —  —  — [59]
Jova 2011  — Jalisco (October 12)  —  —  — [66]
Darby 2016  —  —  — Big Island, Hawaii (July 24)  —
Original: Original:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Category_3_Pacific_hurricanes