THE hyperactive hurricane season in the Pacific has jumped up another gear, spawning a record trio of category 4 strength tropical storms that will give the powerful El Nino event yet another boost.
Hurricanes Kilo and Ignacio were to the west and east of the Hawaii Islands on Monday, while Jimena spun further to the east.
Jimena is hovering over waters of about 28 degrees warmth, more than the 26.6 degrees needed to maintain intensity.
The storm's maximum sustained winds were about 240 km/h, and it attracted the interest of astronauts orbiting Earth in the International Space Station, who posted images to social media site Twitter.
Kilo, meanwhile had maximum sustained winds of about 215 km/h as it moved across the International Date Line, NASA said.
Ignacio, which had been a category 4 hurricane, continued to weaken on Monday but was still generating sustained winds reaching 165 km/h, the space agency said.
A fourth storm, described by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as Tropical Depression Fourteen-E has also formed in the eastern Pacific.
El Nino builds
The unusual flurry of tropical storms in Pacific is adding to the potency of the El Nino event. The hurricanes tend to disrupt or counter the easterly trade winds that typically blow along the equator, allowing yet more heat to build up in the eastern parts of the ocean.
The elevated sea-surface temperatures in turn provide more energy for hurricanes (or cyclones or typhoons - as the storms are known in different regions) to develop.
On Monday, the Bureau of Meteorology's weekly temperature reading showed anomalous warmth has exceeded 2 degrees in the key Nino 3.4 region of the equatorial Pacific.
That level had not been reached since the 1997-98 El Nino event in 1997-98, considered to be the most powerful recorded.
The unusual tropical storm activity is not confined to the Pacific.
Hurricane Fred has formed near the Cape Verde Islands about 600 kilometres west of the African coast.
According to the respected Weather Underground website, a similar storm in that region hasn't been seen since 1892.
In July, Australia's north-eastern region also recorded its earliest ever tropical cyclone when Raquel formed over the Solomon Islands.