Interannual variability of tropical cyclone activity along the Pacific coast of North America

David S. Gutzler, Kimberly M. Wood, Elizabeth A. Ritchie, Arthur V. Douglas, Michael D. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The interannual variability of near-coastal eastern North Pacific tropical cyclones is described using a data set of cyclone tracks constructed from U.S. and Mexican oceanic and atmospheric reports for the period 1951-2006. Near-coastal cyclone counts are enumerated monthly, allowing us to distinguish interannual variability during different phases of the May-November tropical cyclone season. In these data more tropical cyclones affect the Pacific coast in May-July, the early months of the tropical cyclone season, during La Niña years, when equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures are anomalously cool, than during El Niño years. The difference in early season cyclone counts between La Niña and El Niño years was particularly pronounced during the mid-twentieth century epoch when cool equatorial temperatures were enhanced as described by an index of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Composite maps from years with high and low near-coastal cyclone counts show that the atmospheric circulation anomalies associated with cool sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific are consistent with preferential steering of tropical cyclones northeastward toward the west coast of Mexico.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • ENSO
  • Eastern North Pacific
  • Tropical cyclones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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