Hurricane Amanda Enters Record Books as Strongest Eastern Pacific Storm Ever Seen in Month of May

By Tom Yulsman | May 27, 2014 1:23 pm
Hurricane Amanda

Hurricane Amanda as seen by NASA’s Terra satellite on May 25, 2014, just after its peak winds reached 155 miles per hour — making it a strong Category 4 storm. (Source: NASA Worldview.)

She’s forecast to weaken over the next few days, but on Sunday Amanda entered the record books as the strongest Eastern Pacific hurricane ever seen in the month of May.

As of Tuesday morning, Hurricane Amanda’s maximum sustained winds were pegged at 120 miles per hour, making it a Category 3 storm. But on Sunday, she was much stronger than that. According to meteorologist Jeff Masters:

Amanda peaked as a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds at 15 UTC (10 am EST) May 25, beating the previous May record holder, Hurricane Adolph of 2001, which reached a peak intensity of 145 mph on May 29th of that year. The earliest Category 5 storm on record in the Eastern Pacific was Hurricane Ava of 1973, which peaked at 160 mph on June 6, 1973. All three years (2014, 2001, and 1973) had ocean temperatures that were unusually warm for May along the path of these intense hurricanes: at least 0.4°C above average.

Waters in the tropical Eastern Pacific have been warming recently, increasing the odds of an El Niño.

Hurricane Amanda

Amanda’s track starting on May 22 over warm surface waters. (Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

Amanda became a tropical depression on Thursday, May 22 over relatively warm waters and with low wind shear — conditions that were conducive to rapid strengthening.

From here on out, Amanda is forecast to track north by northwest, gradually weakening as she travels over cooler water and then making an abrupt turn toward the southwest:

Hurricane Amanda

Amanda’s past and forecast track. The pink symbols show Amanda’s forecast position as of Tuesday. (Source: CIMSS)

That turn to the southwest means Amanda poses no significant threat to land. But moisture from the storm may stream into Mexico and further north into the Southwestern United States, enhancing thunderstorm activity there. The moisture is needed desperately. (But not the lightning activity, which could ignite wildfires.)

  • qcubed63

    Strongest ever in MAY? Hmm..makes one wonder. Let us hope that few of these storms that form actually hit land at that strength.

    • Tom Yulsman

      In the Atlantic, the forecast is for fewer hurricanes than average. But in the eastern Pacific, thanks to the warming waters of the coming El Niño, the forecast is for an average to above-average season. So yes, let’s hope that whatever forms, they are steered well clear of shore!

      BTW, I’m afraid to say that a new system appears to be forming right now in the eastern Pacific:

      • qcubed63

        Bad news for the west coast of Mexico, Alcapulco….but maybe good news for California if they can get some rain?



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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