NOAA: Active Hurricane Season ProjectedMay 26, 2015, 1:13 PM HST (Updated May 26, 2015, 1:14 PM)
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced during a Tuesday briefing that the 2015 hurricane season in the Central Pacific Basin is expected to be above average, with the prediction of five to eight tropical cyclones that have the possibility to affect the basin.
According to officials, the Central Pacific Basin sees an average of four to five tropical cyclones each season. These cyclones consist of tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
Tom Evans, acting director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said there is a 70 percent chance that the 2015 season, which lasts from June 1 through November 30, will be above normal. There is a 25 percent chance that the season will be normal and only a 5 percent chance that the hurricane season will be below normal.
The above normal Central Pacific hurricane season forecast can potentially be attributed to El Niño, which favors westward-tracking storms from the eastern Pacific and into the central Pacific. Central Pacific Hurricane Center officials say El Niño continuing, and possibly even strengthening, is a large contributor to the above average outlook.
“I encourage everyone to become weather-ready by signing up for weather alerts, developing and practicing a family emergency plan, and building an emergency kit before hurricane season begins,” Evans said. “Now is the time to make sure that you and your family are ready and prepared for the 2015 hurricane season.”
During the conference, Governor David Ige declared May 24-30 as Hurricane Preparedness Week.
“No matter how much we prepare, we know that we can never over prepare,” Gov. Ige stated during the proclamation.
Gov. Ige hopes that the proclamation will remind communities, businesses, and government service personnel that hurricane season is looming.
“Last season was a busy one. We had storms Iselle, Julio, and Ana come through our community in very short order,” Gov. Ige said. “We were very fortunate that we received no direct hits, except for isolated incidents.”
Dennis Hwang with the Univeristy of Hawai’i Sea Grant noted during the conference that although the state as a whole dodged three major bullets during the 2014 hurricane season, Iselle took a large toll on the Big Island in August 2014.
“We were fortune that Iselle weakened from a category four hurricane to a tropical storm and hit a less densely populated area of Hawai’i County,” Hwang said. “We don’t want to say it wasn’t bad for the people in Hawai’i County. They suffered a lot of impacts.”
Some of those impacts, according to Hwang, include 250 houses that were damaged, 28 reports of major damage reported, 11 houses that were completely destroyed, and tens of thousands of people on the Big Island who were without electricity.
The impacts of Hurricane Iselle were felt across the east side of the Big Island in isolated locations like Hawai’i Beaches, Pahoa, Kalapana, Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and surrounding communities.
Preparedness is key, said Hwang, who outlined preparedness events throughout the state, including one presented by Hawai’i County on July 11 at Kalanianaole School in Papaikou from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
In addition to a busy hurricane season, Kevin Kodama, a NOAA Senior Service Hydrologist, says the that the state’s coming dry season is expected to be wetter than ever, especially on the windward sides of the Hawaiian Islands. The wetter than usual dry season follows a drier than usual wet season, especially in places like Lihue, Maui, which experienced the driest wet season ever, according to Kodama.
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