The 1961 Pacific hurricane season was an event in meteorology. It officially started on May 15, 1961, in the eastern Pacific and lasted until November 30, 1961. Eleven tropical cyclones, 10 named storms (Madeline was operationally considered a tropical storm) and two hurricanes formed during the 1961 season, none of the hurricanes reached beyond category 1 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.
The 1961 Pacific hurricane season featured only one notable tropical cyclone: Hurricane Tara. Tara devastated southwest Mexico, causing 436-500 fatalities, making it the fourth deadliest tropical cyclone in the Eastern Pacific basin.
The 1961 Pacific hurricane season was slightly more active than 1960, which had eight tropical cyclones, compare with 11 during this year. However, in 1960, there were five hurricane, but only two in 1961. Although there were an abnormally high number of tropical cyclones for its time, 1961 fell below the 1995-2008 average number of tropical cyclones, which is 15 tropical cyclones, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. In addition, there were eleven tropical cyclones, two hurricanes, but no major hurricanes. However, in post-analysis, it was noted that "Tropical Storm Madeline" was only a tropical depression, and shouldn't have been named.
Tropical cyclone activity first began about a month after the official start of the season, with Iva developed on June 9. After Iva dissipated on June 11, there was another period of lack of tropical cyclogenesis for almost a month, ending after Tropical Storm Joanne developed on July 10. July was an active month, with four tropical cyclones developing. However, the month of August and September combined featured only two tropical cyclones. After September, there were two tropical cyclones in October, both existing only on October 3 and October 4. Two more tropical cyclones developed in November, which was the first time on record, and would not occur again until 2006.
Hurricane Iva was the first storm of the season, as the Eastern Pacific continued through the name lists regardless of the year. Iva was first observed on June 9 280 mi (420.61 km/h) southwest of Puerto Ángel. The storm slowly curved northward, and Iva did not intensify past its peak with winds of 85 mph (140 km/h). By June 11, Iva made landfall near Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico at the same intensity. Iva transitioned into an extratropical cyclone less than six hours later, and the remnants completely dissipated on June 12.
Tropical Storm Joanne developed on July 10 175 mi (281.63 km) southwest of Socorro Island. Winds were at 50 mph (80 km/h) upon development, and no further intensification would occur while Joanne headed generally westward. Joanne dissipated two days later 883 mi (1421 km/h) south-southeast of Guadalupe Island.
Tropical Storm Kathleen developed on July 14 in a similar location to Tropical Storm Joanne. Kathleen headed west-southwestward and did not intensify past 50 mph (85 km/h). By July 16, Kathleen dissipated.
Tropical Storm Liza stayed at sea.
Tropical Depression Madeline stayed at sea.
Tropical Storm Naomi stayed at sea.
Tropical Storm Orla came close to the Baja California Peninsula.
Tropical Storm Pauline stayed at sea.
Tropical Storm Rebecca stayed at sea.
Tropical Storm Simone formed on November 1 off the coast of Guatemala. Simone turned northward and hit near the Gulf of Tehuantepec on November 2. Simone dissipated on November 3, and possibly contributed to the development of Tropical Storm Inga and/or Hurricane Hattie.
Hurricane Tara was one of the deadliest Pacific hurricanes on record. It was the final storm of the season, forming on November 10 about 230 mi (365 km) off the coast of Mexico. It strengthened to reach 85 mph (140 km/h) before making landfall in the Mexican state of Guerrero near Zihuatanejo. Hurricane Tara dissipated on November 12, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds to locations inundated by 10 days of precipitation. Damage was light in the major port city of Acapulco, though further west along the coast, the effects of Tara were much worse. The city of Nuxco in Tecpán de Galeana municipality received the most damage and deaths from the hurricane. Throughout Mexico, at least 436 fatalities were reported, and damage exceeded $16 million (1961 USD).
The following names were used for named storms that formed in the eastern Pacific in 1961. No names were retired, and the names on this portion of list 1 were used again in the 1968 season. This is the same list as list 1 used during the 1960-1965 Pacific hurricane seasons, names that were not assigned are marked in gray.
The Central Pacific used names and numbers from the Western Pacific's typhoon list. No systems formed in the area, and thus no names were required.