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A Two Faced Storm – Kilo a Typhoon and a Hurricane

kilo.a2015244.0115.1kmWhat’s in a name you ask? Well, the better question might be: “what’s in a title?” We’re asking that because earlier, the tropical system churning in the central Pacific Ocean, known as Kilo, had one title, and now it has another.

The storm was going forward through time (no time machine required). As it was crossing the International Date Line, it was crossing the line of where one calendar day changes to the next, hence going forward 24 hours. So Kilo was half way out of September 1st, and half into September 2nd.

Kilo was once a powerful, major hurricane, peaking at category 4 strength (on the Saffir-Simpson scale) with top winds of 140 mph. Kilo was one of three major, category 4 hurricanes to be in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (the others being Ignacio and Jimena). That was something that had not been witnessed before the weather satellite era (since 1961). It, at one point, looked like it could threaten the Hawaiian Islands with a possible landfall. Then, mercifully, the storm wandered around for a while before trekking towards the west, and in doing so, it approached International Date Line in the western Pacific Ocean.

That line is an imaginary line that runs north to south, from pole to pole, at the 180° line of longitude. When passing from east to west, you move ahead one whole day.

As Kilo crossed over that imaginary line, the storm system was crossing into the western Pacific Ocean, where tropical systems are called “typhoons.” So for a while, as it was crossing the line, the storm had two titles, so to speak, with the western half being a typhoon and the eastern side being a hurricane. Pretty cool, huh?

Satellite image of Hurricane Kilo as it crosses the international dateline. Credit: NOAA/NESDIS
Satellite image of Hurricane Kilo as it crosses the international dateline.
Credit: NOAA/NESDIS

The last tropical system to go from the Eastern Pacific Ocean to the Western Pacific Ocean, thereby crossing the International Date Line, was Genevieve last year. The storm that holds the record for being around the longest in the Pacific Ocean, was John in 1994. It also made a similar journey, and was around for 30 days! Kilo has been around for just under 2 weeks and could challenge John’s record.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist, Addison Green
(Headline image: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team)

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