Triple trouble: Satellite sees three hurricanes in the Pacific

A weather satellite looked down on the Pacific over the weekend and caught sight of three separate major hurricanes.

Three hurricanes is a lot of hurricanes.


Ignacio, Kilo and Jimena all got together during the weekend for a hurricane get-together over the Pacific. The rare occurrence was seen from orbit by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-West weather satellite.

The satellite captured the image on the morning of August 30. The three round-centered formations show (from left to right) Hurricane Kilo, Hurricane Ignacio and Hurricane Jimena, all classified as Category 4 at the time. Hawaii is visible between Kilo and Ignacio.

A Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds of 130-156 mph (209-251 kph) and is capable of inflicting severe damage on structures and landscapes. Both Kilo and Ignacio have since weakened and been downgraded (though their categorizations continue to vary).

The Goes-West satellite is in a geostationary orbit, meaning it always hangs out in the same place relative to Earth so it can keep an eye on a particular part of the globe (in this case, the satellite is stationed above the Pacific Ocean). The NOAA uses the satellite for storm-tracking, forecasting and weather research.

NASA's Terra satellite also took images of the storm systems on August 29. "This is the first time there have been three active hurricanes in the Eastern or Central Pacific Ocean this season, and they're all major hurricanes," NASA notes.

This sort of gathering marks a very rare happening. Says the Weather Channel: "This is the first recorded occurrence of three Category 4 hurricanes in the central and eastern Pacific basins at the same time."