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First tropical storm of NE Pacific pounds Guatemala

It's the beginning of the hurricane season in the north eastern Pacific Ocean, too, and it's off to a tragic start as remnants of Tropical Storm Agatha continue to drench parts of Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador with up to 20 inches of rain. At least 16 people have died and 69,000 have been evacuated amid the torrential rains and resulting landslides.

In contrast with the Atlantic, the eastern Pacific is expected to have a quiet season this year, with forecasters giving the region a 75 percent chance of a below-normal number of tropical storms forming, and a 10 percent chance of only a normal season.  Forecasters cite ongoing multi-decadal cycles that are suppressing storm formation in the region, and the expected neutral or La Nina phase of the Pacific cycle of seas-surface temperatures.

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Those are some of the same reasons why predictions for the Atlantic basin call for an active to extremely active season this year. While La Ninas tend to suppress tropical storm formation in the Pacific, the long-distance atmospheric patterns they set up tend to take the brakes off storm formation in the Atlantic. And, the Atlantic remains in its own multi-decadal cycle which, since 1995, has stimulated above-normal storm formation there.

The eastern Pacific has it own name list for the 2010 season, too, starting with Agatha. Here is the list for the Atlantic season, beginning with Alex.

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