Hurricane Kenna

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Hurricane Kenna
Category 5 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Kenna 24 oct 2002 1750Z.jpg
Hurricane Kenna near peak intensity on October 24
FormedOctober 22, 2002
DissipatedOctober 26, 2002
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:165 mph (270 km/h)
Lowest pressure913 mbar (hPa); 26.96 inHg
(Fourth–most intense Pacific hurricane on record)
Fatalities4 direct
Damage$101 million (2002 USD)
Areas affectedWestern Mexico, Southern United States
Part of the 2002 Pacific hurricane season

Hurricane Kenna was the fourth-most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Eastern Pacific basin, and at the time the third-most intense Pacific hurricane to strike the west coast of Mexico. [1] Kenna was the sixteenth tropical depression, thirteenth tropical storm, seventh hurricane, sixth major hurricane, and third Category 5 hurricane of the 2002 Pacific hurricane season. After forming on October 22 to the south of Mexico from a tropical wave, forecasters consistently predicted the storm to strengthen much less than it actually did. Moving into an area of favorable upper-level conditions and warm sea surface temperatures, Kenna quickly strengthened to reach peak winds of 165 mph (270 km/h) as a Category 5 hurricane, on October 25, while located about 255 mi (410 km) southwest of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Weakening as it turned to the northeast, the hurricane made landfall near San Blas, Nayarit as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/h), before dissipating on October 26 over the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains.

Tropical cyclone Rotating storm system with a closed, low-level circulation

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain or squalls. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Pacific hurricane mature tropical cyclone that develops within the eastern and central Pacific Ocean

A Pacific hurricane is a mature tropical cyclone that develops within the eastern and central Pacific Ocean to the east of 180°W, north of the equator. For tropical cyclone warning purposes, the northern Pacific is divided into three regions: the eastern, central, and western, while the southern Pacific is divided into 2 sections, the Australian region and the southern Pacific basin between 160°E and 120°W. Identical phenomena in the western north Pacific are called typhoons. This separation between the two basins has a practical convenience, however, as tropical cyclones rarely form in the central north Pacific due to high vertical wind shear, and few cross the dateline.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometers (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fourth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 129 million people, Mexico is the tenth most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states plus Mexico City (CDMX), which is the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the country include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana, and León.


The name "Kenna" was retired from the list of Pacific hurricane names due to its effects on Mexico, which included US$101 million in damage and four deaths. The worst of the hurricane's effects occurred between San Blas in Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, where over 100 people were injured and thousands of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. 95% of the buildings in San Blas were damaged, and hundreds of buildings were destroyed along coastal areas of Puerto Vallarta.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Kenna 2002 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

The origin of Hurricane Kenna can be traced to a tropical wave moving westward through the Caribbean Sea on October 16, possibly the same wave that passed near Barbados two days earlier. The wave entered the eastern Pacific Ocean on October 19, and a tropical disturbance along the wave axis gradually became better organized. Conditions favored continued development, and Dvorak classifications began late on October 20. Early on October 22, the system developed into Tropical Depression Fourteen-E while located about 375 mi (605 km) south of Manzanillo, Colima. [1] Initially the depression was disorganized, with little inner convective structure and sporadic deep convection. Computer models predicted an increase in wind shear by 60 hours; as such the National Hurricane Center forecast the depression to strengthen to a peak strength of 45 mph (70 km/h) before weakening. [2]

Tropical wave type of atmospheric trough

A tropical wave, in and around the Atlantic Ocean, is a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. Tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high air pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeastern Pacific basins. A tropical wave study is aided by Hovmöller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

Caribbean Sea A sea of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North, Central, and South America

The Caribbean Sea is an American Mediterranean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

Barbados Country in the Caribbean

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America. It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 km (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, Barbados is east of the Windwards, part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 13°N of the equator. It is about 168 km (104 mi) east of both the countries of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 180 km (110 mi) south-east of Martinique and 400 km (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

The depression quickly became better organized with a great increase in convection near the center, and six hours after forming it strengthened into Tropical Storm Kenna. Upper-level outflow and banding features improved in organization, as well. With warm water temperatures of over 29 °C (84 °F) and updated model forecasts anticipating light amounts of vertical wind shear, forecasters predicted Kenna to slowly intensify to reach winds of 85 mph (135 km/h) within 72 hours of October 22. [3] The storm moved to the west-northwest around the periphery of a mid-level high-pressure system, and initially failed to strengthen further with much of its convection being associated with outer rainbands. On October 23, the outer rainbands dissipated and convection became more concentrated near the center, which coincided with a steady increase in strength. Late on October 23, Kenna intensified into a hurricane while located about 380 mi (615 km) southwest of Manzanillo. [1]

Anticyclone Weather phenomenon which is the opposite of a cyclone

An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon defined by the United States National Weather Service's glossary as "a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere". Effects of surface-based anticyclones include clearing skies as well as cooler, drier air. Fog can also form overnight within a region of higher pressure. Mid-tropospheric systems, such as the subtropical ridge, deflect tropical cyclones around their periphery and cause a temperature inversion inhibiting free convection near their center, building up surface-based haze under their base. Anticyclones aloft can form within warm core lows such as tropical cyclones, due to descending cool air from the backside of upper troughs such as polar highs, or from large scale sinking such as the subtropical ridge. The evolution of an anticyclone depends upon variables such as its size, intensity, and extent of moist convection, as well as the Coriolis force.

Shortly after becoming a hurricane, Kenna began to rapidly intensify with a 17 mi (27 km) wide eye located within its well-defined central dense overcast. [4] Early on October 24 Kenna became a major hurricane, and in a 24‑hour period the hurricane more than doubled its windspeed from 70 mph (115 km/h) winds to 145 mph (235 km/h). After turning to the north and northeast in response to the flow ahead of a large mid to upper-level trough, Kenna attained peak winds of 165 mph (265 km/h) early on October 25 while located about 255 mi (410 km) southwest of Puerto Vallarta, the third Category 5 hurricane of the season. A Reconnaissance Aircraft flight into the hurricane while it was near peak intensity recorded a pressure of 913  mbar (hPa), [1] the fourth lowest recorded pressure for a Pacific hurricane. [5] [6]

Eye (cyclone) region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 kilometres (19–40 mi) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

Trough (meteorology) elongated region of low atmospheric pressure

A trough is an elongated (extended) region of relatively low atmospheric pressure, often associated with fronts. Troughs may be at the surface, or aloft, or both under various conditions. Most troughs bring clouds, showers, and a wind shift, particularly following the passage of the trough. This results from convergence or "squeezing" which forces lifting of moist air behind the trough line.

Puerto Vallarta Place in Jalisco, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. PV or simply Vallarta is the second largest urban agglomeration in the state after the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta which comprises the city as well as population centers outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border . The city is located at 20°40′N105°16′W. The municipality has an area of 1,300.7 square kilometres (502.19 sq mi). To the north it borders the southwest part of the state of Nayarit. To the east it borders the municipality of Mascota and San Sebastián del Oeste, and to the south it borders the municipalities of Talpa de Allende and Cabo Corrientes.

Quickly after peaking, wind shear from the approaching trough weakened the hurricane, and by six hours after reaching peak intensity, the winds in Hurricane Kenna dropped to 150 mph (240 km/h), after the eye nearly dissipated. Despite a 27  mbar increase in pressure in 12 hours, convective activity increased prior to Kenna making landfall. On October 25, Hurricane Kenna made landfall near San Blas in the state of Nayarit, as a Category 4 hurricane, with estimated sustained winds of 140 mph (225 km/h). Hurricane Kenna was at the time, the third most intense Pacific hurricane to strike Mexico. The hurricane rapidly weakened over the mountainous terrain of western Mexico, and the circulation dissipated on October 26 over the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. The remnants continued northeastward into the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern United States later that day, producing rainfall across the region. [1]

Bar (unit) non-SI unit of pressure

The bar is a metric unit of pressure, but is not approved as part of the International System of Units (SI). It is defined as exactly equal to 100,000 Pa, which is slightly less than the current average atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level.

Convection movement of groups of molecules within fluids such as liquids or gases, and within rheids; takes place through advection, diffusion or both

Convection is the heat transfer due to the bulk movement of molecules within fluids such as gases and liquids, including molten rock (rheid). Convection includes sub-mechanisms of advection, and diffusion.

San Blas, Nayarit Municipality in Nayarit, Mexico

San Blas is both a municipality and municipal seat located on the Pacific coast of Mexico in Nayarit.


Hurricane Kenna rainfall in Mexico Kenna rainfall.JPG
Hurricane Kenna rainfall in Mexico

About 27 hours before landfall, Mexican officials issued a hurricane watch from Mazatlán to Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, with a tropical storm watch issued further south to Manzanillo. Six hours later when its track became more apparent, the watch was upgraded to a hurricane warning from Mazatlán to La Fortuna, with a tropical storm warning southward to Manzanillo. [1]

Mazatlán Place in Sinaloa, Mexico

Mazatlán is a city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The city serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipio, known as the Mazatlán Municipality. It is located at 23°13′N106°25′W on the Pacific coast, across from the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula.

Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco

Cabo Corrientes is a cape on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Jalisco. It marks the southernmost point of the Bahía de Banderas, upon which the port and resort city of Puerto Vallarta stands. The municipality in which the cape lies is also called Cabo Corrientes.

Manzanillo, Colima Place in Colima, Mexico

Manzanillo is a city, seat of Manzanillo Municipality, in the Mexican state of Colima. The city, located on the Pacific Ocean, contains Mexico's busiest port that is responsible for handling Pacific cargo for the Mexico City area. It is the largest producing municipality for the business sector and tourism in the state of Colima.

Roughly 8,800 of the 9,000 residents in the landfall location, San Blas, evacuated, which ultimately contributed to a low death toll. [1] Officials ordered for the evacuation of 50,000 residents and fishermen along the southwest coast of Mexico, including 3,000 in the Islas Marías, [7] 10,000 near Mazatlán, and 15,000 near flood-prone areas. Civil authorities closed all schools and docks in potentially affected areas. The Mexican Red Cross prepared for the storm by shipping 215  tonnes of relief supplies such as food, water, clothing, and medicine to the Red Cross branch in Jalisco. Assistance from the Yucatán Peninsula delivered 10  tonnes of food and water, as well. [8] The Mexican Red Cross prepared 20 emergency shelters in the state of Nayarit. [9] Officials took security measures in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation was meeting during the passage of the hurricane. Early forecasts indicated a possible threat to the meeting, causing the government to prepare for a potential alternate site. [7] Officials recommended boats to stay at port due to severe conditions. [10]


Landfalling Pacific major hurricanes
Intensity is measured solely by wind speed
HurricaneSeasonWind speedRef.
Patricia 2015 150  mph (240  km/h) [11]
Madeline 1976 145 mph (230 km/h) [12]
Iniki 1992 [13]
Twelve 1957 140 mph (220 km/h) [14]
"Mexico" 1959 [14]
Kenna 2002 [15]
Olivia 1967 125 mph (205 km/h) [14]
Tico 1983 [16]
Lane 2006 [17]
Odile 2014 [18]
Olivia 1975 115 mph (185 km/h) [19]
Liza 1976 [12]
Kiko 1989 [20]
Willa 2018 [21]
Hurricane Kenna making landfall in Mexico on October 25 Hurricane Kenna 25 oct 2002.jpg
Hurricane Kenna making landfall in Mexico on October 25

Few official surface observations are available for the passage of the hurricane. Upon making landfall, Kenna was accompanied with an estimated 16 foot (4.9 m) storm surge in San Blas. The surge also affected Puerto Vallarta, with reports of 10 foot (3 m) waves rushing inland from the bay. The hurricane dropped about 1.38 inches (35 mm) of precipitation while passing about 60 mi (95 km) east of the offshore archipelago, Islas Marías. There, sustained winds reached an estimated 106 mph (170 km/h). [1] On land, Kenna dropped heavy rainfall peaking at 18.91 inches (480 mm) at San Ignacio, Sinaloa, and 12.89 inches (327 mm) near Manzanillo, Colima. [22] The highest recorded sustained wind on land was about 100 mph (161 km/h) at Tepic, Nayarit, with wind gusts at Puerto Vallarta reaching 50 mph (80 km/h). [1] The hurricane also produced heavy rainfall in Guerrero, Michoacán, Colima, and Jalisco, and hit Baja California Sur with strong winds and rough seas. [10]

In San Blas, strong winds from the hurricane damaged or destroyed 95% of the homes, [23] with 1,540 houses damaged and 8,800 people affected. [24] There, large commercial shrimp boats were swept up to 900 feet (275 m) inland from their docks. An elderly woman died in the city when the wall of her house collapsed on her. [1] Large portions of the city were covered with building debris and sand washed from the ocean. [8] Elsewhere in Nayarit, flying debris killed a person in Santiago Escuintla. There, two elderly men drowned, one by falling into a river. Both were believed to have been killed during the storm as they fled their homes. [1] In Santiago Ixcuintla, the hurricane damaged 3,770 homes, [24] and throughout Nayarit, strong winds from the hurricane destroyed the roofs of hundreds of houses. [25] Federal authorities lost communications with at least 30 Indian villages due to the high winds of the hurricane. [8] Kenna destroyed the entire banana, tobacco, and tomato crops in the rural areas of San Blas, Tecuala, and Acaponeta, leaving more than 700 subsistence farmers and their families in need of water and food. [24]

In Puerto Vallarta, about 100 mi (164 km) southeast of the landfall location, the storm surge resulted in an estimated damage total of US$5 million, primarily to hotels. [1] The surge flooded the hotels and other waterfront areas, and extended up to 330 feet (100 m) inland. Waist-deep floodwaters swept away vans and cars, [26] ruining several vehicles. The passage of the hurricane destroyed 150 stores near the ocean and extensively damaged three hotels. Damage to the city's port was minor. [27]

The hurricane injured at least 52 in Puerto Vallarta [28] and dozens in San Blas from widespread flying glass and other forms of debris, [1] with two people seriously injured due to the hurricane. Ten municipalities suffered substantial damage, [27] with insured damage in Mexico totaling

The remnants of Kenna entered the south-central United States on October 26, resulting in enhanced rainfall in various locations. [1]


Damage in Puerto Vallarta Kenna damage (Vallarta).jpg
Damage in Puerto Vallarta

After the season had ended, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Kenna and replaced it with Karina. [30]

The Mexican government declared the region in Nayarit near the landfall of Kenna as a disaster area, allowing for the usage of emergency funds. [8] Immediately after the passage of the hurricane, the Mexican Red Cross prepared 180 technical staff and volunteers from seven states to deliver 125  MT of food, medicine, and clothes to the areas most affected. [25] The Mexican government deployed the Mexican Army to the area to remove fallen trees and establish water treatment plants to assist the affected population. The Mexican Navy was sent to assist to support medical personnel in the San Blas area, and the government Department for Family Development assisted the Mexican Red Cross in delivering food. Grupo Modelo, brewers of Corona beer, sent 6,600  gallons (25,000 liters) of drinking water and 1000 food sets for the San Blas area. [24]

Backhoes and dump trucks gradually removed the debris and sand from San Blas. [8] Dozens of storeowners, municipal employees, and volunteers in Puerto Vallarta worked to clear the debris caused by the storm. The remaining stores, bars, and shops placed signs on their windows describing they were open in effort to attract the tourists still in the town. [27] By about two months after the hurricane, most hotels, restaurants, and shops were reopened. [31]

See also

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Hurricane Odile is tied for the most intense landfalling tropical cyclone in the Baja California Peninsula during the satellite era. Sweeping across the peninsula in September 2014, Odile inflicted widespread damage, particularly in the state of Baja California Sur, in addition to causing lesser impacts on the Mexican mainland and Southwestern United States. The precursor to Odile developed into a tropical depression south of Mexico on September 10 and quickly reached tropical storm strength. After meandering for several days, Odile began to track northwestward, intensifying to hurricane status before rapidly reaching its Category 4 hurricane peak intensity on September 14. The cyclone slightly weakened before making landfall near Cabo San Lucas with winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). Odile gradually weakened as it tracked across the length of the Baja California Peninsula, briefly crossing into the Gulf of California before degenerating into a remnant system on September 17. These remnants tracked northeastward across the Southwestern United States before they were no longer identifiable on September 19.

Hurricane Bud (2018) Category 4 Pacific hurricane in 2018

Hurricane Bud was the first of six tropical cyclones to make a landfall in Mexico during the 2018 Pacific hurricane season. Bud was a powerful tropical cyclone that produced heavy rainfall and flash flooding across Northwestern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. However, the storm resulted in only minor damage. The second named storm, hurricane, and major hurricane of the season, Bud originated from a tropical wave that departed from Africa on May 29. It then traveled across the Atlantic Ocean before crossing over South America and entering the Northeast Pacific Ocean late on June 6. The system then moved northwest and steadily organized, becoming a tropical depression late on June 9 and Tropical Storm Bud early the next day. Favorable upper-level winds and ample moisture allowed the storm to rapidly intensify to a hurricane late on June 10 and further to a major hurricane on June 11. Bud ultimately peaked the next morning with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 943 mbar. It curved north while rapidly succumbing to the effects of ocean upwelling, making landfall on Baja California Sur as a minimal tropical storm early on June 15. On the next day, land interaction and increasing wind shear caused Bud to degenerate to a remnant low, and Bud dissipated completely on June 16.

Hurricane Willa Category 5 Pacific hurricane in 2018

Hurricane Willa was the sixth costliest Pacific hurricane on record, as well as the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in the Mexican state of Sinaloa since Lane in 2006. The twenty-fifth tropical cyclone, twenty-second named storm, thirteenth hurricane, tenth major hurricane, and record-tying third Category 5 hurricane of the 2018 Pacific hurricane season, Willa originated from a tropical wave that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) first began monitoring for tropical cyclogenesis in the southwestern Caribbean Sea, on October 14. The system subsequently crossed over Central America into the East Pacific, without significant organization. The NHC continued to track the disturbance until it developed into a tropical depression on October 20, off the coast of southwestern Mexico. Later in the day, the system became a tropical storm as it began to rapidly intensify. On October 21, Willa became a Category 4 major hurricane, before strengthening further to Category 5 intensity on the next day. Afterward, a combination of an eyewall replacement cycle and increasing wind shear weakened the hurricane, and early on October 24, Willa made landfall as a marginal Category 3 hurricane, in Sinaloa of the northwestern Mexico. Following landfall, Willa rapidly weakened, dissipating later on the same day over northeastern Mexico.


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