Impressive category 4 Hurricane Kenneth is now the strongest late season hurricane on record.
There are only eight days left in the 2011 hurricane season, so its very unusual to have a major hurricane spinning in the eastern Pacific. Since 1949, there have been just three eastern Pacific named storms that have formed after November 18th. Kenneth has reached its high point in terms of wind speed, with sustained winds of 145 mph, and gusts even higher to near 175 mph. The combination of the late date, and these extremely high wind speeds, give Kenneth the distinction of being the strongest late-season hurricane on record (hurricane activity has been recorded since the 1800’s.) Just for context, the previous record was held by hurricane Winnie, active in early December, 1983…which was a category 1 storm with only 90 mph winds.
Hurricane Kenneth is moving over an ocean surface that is 80.6F degrees, with relatively light shearing winds aloft. This has provided the favorable environment to attain such dynamic conditions. Kenneth took form over the very warm ocean (84F) offshore from Mexico just last weekend. As it continues to move more or less westward, it will fall rather quickly from notoriety as it moves over a cooler sea surface and runs into stronger shearing winds aloft. This will be the one-two punch for Kenneth, which is forecast to run out of steam in 4-5 days.
Here’s the official National Hurricane Center’s graphical track map
This very close-up looping satellite image of hurricane Kenneth is provided by the Space Science and Engineering Center University of Wisconsin-Madison
This is the computer forecast model runs for Kenneth…provided by Florida State University.
Considering the location of the Hawaiian Islands, Kenneth poses no danger at this point certainly, and likely will have no influence in the future. There’s always that chance that some portion of the remnant moisture from a dissipated Kenneth, could eventually be carried to the islands on the easterly trade winds…which wouldn’t be until well into next week if at all.