The Central Pacific Hurricane Center has forecast a near-normal season for the region this year due to El Niño conditions.
Thursday morning, the center said it expects four to seven tropical cyclones for the region, which includes Hawaii, for the season beginning Thursday.
Typically, the Central Pacific sees four to five tropical cyclones a year.
Christopher Brenchley, director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, noted that quiet seasons in recent years, including 2022, when there was only one tropical cyclone in Hawaii, may have led people to a sense of complacency.
But El Niño conditions correlate with above-average tropical cyclone activity in the central Pacific, making it more important than ever to be prepared.
“As we’ve been reminded in seasons past and also rapidly recently with the typhoon in Guam, it only gets hit by one,” he said Thursday at a news conference, “and with an increase in activity in the basin, obviously there’s going to be a lot going on. to the potential for further threats to the land.”
The prediction includes a 50% chance of an above-normal season and a 35% chance of a near-normal season, leaving a 15% chance of a below-normal season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center expects El Niño conditions to develop across the Pacific this summer, resulting in above-average sea surface temperatures.
During El Niño, the easterly trade winds weaken, according to NOAA, and warmer ocean waters near the equator cause the Pacific jet stream to move south of its neutral position.
NOAA said La Nina has the opposite effect, bringing stronger-than-usual trade winds while cooler ocean waters in the Pacific push the jet stream northward. This typically creates a greater amount of wind shear that helps weaken tropical cyclones heading toward Hawaii.
The transition to El Niño comes after three straight years of La Niña, according to NOAA.
Kevin Kodama, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said our tropical cyclone season tends to be most active during El Niño years.
Hurricane Lane, for example, occurred during an El Niño year in the summer of 2018, bringing a record amount of rain (58 inches over three days) to the state.
Torrential rains and high winds from Hurricane Lane triggered flash flooding, mudslides, and downed power lines, causing millions of dollars in damage.
But in the summer of 2020, which was a La Niña year, Hawaii narrowly avoided the most devastating impacts of Hurricane Douglas as it passed just north of the main Hawaiian Islands.
“Overall, it was a pretty below-average hurricane season,” Kodama said, “but Douglas reminded us that it doesn’t matter. All it takes is that. It is a message that we always try to reinforce and repeat, regardless of the cycle you are in: El Niño or La Niña. Get ready for the one.
Kodama also warned residents to prepare for a drought that will develop sometime this summer and get progressively worse due to below-average rainfall that could continue into the next rainy season.
The Central Pacific hurricane season in Hawaii runs from June 1 through November 30. Tropical cyclones include tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes.
Officials urge the public to prepare for hurricane season with a family emergency plan and a disaster supply kit with at least two weeks of food, water, medicine and other essentials.
Governor Josh Green also urged residents to take these recommendations “to heart” and proclaimed that this will be Hawaii Hurricane Preparedness Week.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, Hawaii is experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers and hospitals are currently full, so residents need to be “super-prepared before the storms hit.”
U.S. Representative Ed Case announced Thursday a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Lanakila Pacific to harden its facilities and protect its reserve food supplies during severe storms.
More information on preparing for hurricanes is available at ready.hawaii.gov.
You are ready?
When: June 1-Nov. 30, 2023
That: NOAA is forecasting a near-normal hurricane season, with 4-7 tropical cyclones.
Where: Central Pacific Region
Prepare: A 14-day supply kit of food, water, other essentials, and a battery-powered radio. Develop an evacuation plan, know where shelters are located, get an insurance review, document your possessions.
More information: Visit ready.hawaii.gov (click on get ready).
EMERGENCY SUPPLIES CHECKLIST
Hurricane season begins Thursday and continues through November 30. Be prepared with a 14-day supply kit of food, water, and other essentials. Also develop an evacuation plan, know where shelters are, get an insurance review, and document your possessions.
❑ Water stored in plastic containers.
One gallon per person, per day for two weeks is good. More is better.
❑ Nonperishable food
Ready-to-eat canned goods, including meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and soups, as well as juices, staple foods (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.), energy bars, vitamins, baby food, food for pets and favorite snacks.
❑ Clothing and bedding
One complete change of clothes per person, baby diapers, sturdy shoes or work boots, raincoat, blankets or sleeping bags, hat and gloves, sunglasses.
❑ First aid box
Include bandages, alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream, and other wound care supplies. Add over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin, antacids, ipecac or activated charcoal (to induce vomiting), laxatives, or stool softeners.
❑ Prescription drugs
Include prescription medications like insulin, heart and blood pressure medications, even an extra pair of glasses. (NOTE: Prescription drugs expire and must be rotated.)
❑ tools and supplies
Emergency preparedness manual, important documents (birth certificates, Social Security cards, insurance policies, etc.), paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, battery-operated radio and extra batteries, flashlight and extra batteries, cash or traveler’s checks, change, manual can opener, utility knife, gloves, fire extinguisher, tent, pliers, tape, compass, waterproof matches, aluminum foil, plastic storage containers, sparklers, paper, pencil , sewing kit, eyedropper, wrench, whistle, plastic sheeting, map.
Toilet paper, baby wipes, soap, washing up liquid, feminine items, deodorant, toothpaste or denture supplies, toothbrush, plastic trash bags and zip ties, plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid, disinfectant spray, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent, household bleach.
>> More information: Visit ready.hawaii.gov (click on “Get Ready”).
Source: State Department of Health