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Prolonged El Nino conditions in 2014-2015 and the rapid intensification of Hurricane Patricia in the eastern Pacific
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  • Source:
    Geophysical Research Letters, 43(19), 10347-10355.
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  • Description:
    Hurricane Patricia was the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the eastern North Pacific or Atlantic, reaching a peak intensity of 95ms(-1) only 30h after attaining hurricane status (33ms(-1)). Here it is shown that exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs), a deeper than normal thermocline, and strong near-surface salinity stratification all aided Patricia's rapid intensification, combining to increase its Potential Intensity by 1-14ms(-1). Anomalous surface warming and thermocline deepening along Patricia's track were driven by prolonged El Nino conditions during 2014-2015 and punctuated by the buildup to the extreme El Nino of 2015-2016. In the region where Patricia intensified, SST was 1.5 degrees C higher and sea surface height was 10cm higher compared to conditions during the last extreme El Nino in 1997, emphasizing the extraordinary nature of the 2015 anomalies.
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