Oct 2, 2018 - Science

A rare combination of Category 5 storms in the Pacific

Satellite loop showing Super Typhoon Kong-rey on the left and Hurricane Walaka on the right.
Infrared satellite loop showing Super Typhoon Kong-rey on the left and Hurricane Walaka on the right on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Image: CIRA/RAMMB

As of early Tuesday, something unprecedented transpired across the Pacific Ocean. There were two Category 5 storms spinning at the same time, in opposite parts of the massive ocean basin — Super Typhoon Kong-rey and Hurricane Walaka.

Why it matters: According to meteorologist Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, this was the first time on record that two Category 5 storms occurred simultaneously in the Northwest Pacific and the Northeast Pacific.

  • Both storms have since diminished slightly in intensity to Category 4 hurricanes. Super Typhoon Kong-rey is headed for Okinawa and could become yet another in a parade of typhoons to hit Japan this season. Meanwhile, Hurricane Walaka appears set to score a direct hit on tiny Johnston Island, a former weapons testing site turned National Wildlife Refuge located about 940 miles west of Hawaii.

By the numbers: So far this year, there have been eight Category 5 storms around the globe, which is above the annual average of about five. High-end storms such as these cause the majority of hurricane- and typhoon-related damage around the world, since they carry the triple threat of devastatingly powerful winds, high storm surge and inland flooding.

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