U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters flew a total of 34 missions in the central Pacific this year, the busiest hurricane season for Hawaii on record.
In total, the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron logged a total of 587 hours of flight time, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summary report released Friday.
The Central Pacific saw 15 tropical cyclones in 2015, four more than previous records set in 1992 and 1994. Incredibly, Hawaii didn’t sustain a direct hit from any of this year’s storms.
In a typical year, Hawaii sees four to five tropical cyclones. Some years, Hawaii has seen one or none.
The state’s hurricane season ended Dec. 1.
The NOAA report pointed out that it wasn’t just a record-busy hurricane season.
Here are other records set during the season:
There were five hurricanes (three major hurricanes) in August. The previous record was two.
There were three tropical storms in July. The previous previous record was one.
The season started earlier, when Ela developed to tropical storm strength in the central Pacific on July 9. The previous record was set by Wali, which formed on July 17, 2014.
Kilo and Ignacio (while in the central Pacific basin) were part of a historic central and eastern Pacific outbreak -- 3 major hurricanes (Jimena in east Pacific) at once for the first time on record. Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena were all Category 4 storms concurrently. Prior to this, two concurrent Category 3 hurricanes, let alone Category 4, had never been recorded in the central Pacific basin.
Olaf was the strongest central Pacific basin hurricane on record so late in the year.
The busy hurricane season was blamed on a strong El Niño. The weather phenomenon is driven by warm surface water in the Eastern Pacific, and typically causes Hawaii to have a wetter-than-normal summer and a drier-than-normal winter.