Warning against complacency afterwards “too quiet” hurricane seasons in recent years, a top Hawaii weather official advised residents to prepare for a 50 percent chance of above-normal tropical cyclone activity during the upcoming Central Pacific hurricane season.
There could be four to seven tropical cyclones, including tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes, in the Central Pacific during the hurricane season that begins Thursday and runs through Nov. 30, said Christopher Brenchley, director of the National Weather Service for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. , Central Pacific Hurricane Center on Oahu.
The figures are not a forecast of hurricanes making landfall in the state, but forecasts for a “larger-scale prediction” said Brenchley, who spoke at a news conference in Oahu Thursday morning to unveil the forecast for a near-or-above-normal hurricane season.
“The past few hurricane seasons have been fairly quiet in Hawaii, which has led some people to let their guard down. Now it looks like this season will be more active than in recent years.” Brenchley said in a news release. “It’s more important than ever to review your emergency plan and supply kit now, so you’re prepared for the next hurricane threat.”
In the 2022 and 2021 hurricane seasons, only one tropical cyclone made its way into the central Pacific. There were two in 2020, four in 2019 and six in 2018. The most tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific since 1970 were 16 in 2015, according to NOAA data.
Brenchley reminded people that “only gets hit by one” hurricane to cause extensive damage. He also pointed to this week’s Typhoon Mawar in Guam, where the storm caused flooding at the island’s international airport, flipping vehicles, ripping apart roofs and ripping up trees.
Tropical cyclones not only cause flooding, but present other dangerous weather conditions. In 2018, Hurricane Lane brought strong wind gusts to Maui of 70 miles per hour, helping to spread a wildfire over Lahaina that burned homes, forced evacuations and closed parts of the Honoapiilani Highway.
That year, the hurricane outlook indicated an equal chance of above-normal and near-normal hurricane seasons at 40 percent each, and a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.
In 2018, three to six tropical cyclones were forecast for the Pacific hurricane basin, slightly fewer than forecast for this year.
By 2023, there is a 15 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 50 percent chance of an above-normal season.
Brenchley explained at the press conference that El Niño conditions may set in this hurricane season and the ocean is already warming.
He added that this generally correlates “with above-average tropical cyclone activity in the Central Pacific. This is the big factor in the prospects for the season for 2023.”
Gov. Josh Green, who also attended the press conference proclaiming Hawaii Hurricane Preparedness Week this week, encouraged residents to be prepared by knowing where to go in times of emergencies and having enough food and medicine.
He also said that since the pandemic, there may not be enough medical staff to provide all the care that may be needed if a weather emergency occurs, so it is important “practice good prevention”.
“We will do whatever it takes professionally to keep people safe, but we need that extra support from you to be ready.” Green added.
Laura Kay Rand, vice president and chief impact officer for the Hawaii Food Bank, also urged the public to stock up on 14 days of food and water.
He recognized that for some, money is tight and families cannot look beyond today or even next week. So, for the budget-conscious, she suggested looking for deals on foods you normally eat and just picking one more item to help stock up. Every time there is a sale, they should continue the practice of picking up an additional item.
He also recommended that families in need of assistance seek help now, either through friends or family.
Those who have the means to help others should reach out to their neighbors, friends and family, including the elderly, who may need help preparing a supply of food or emergency items.
Families need to plan ahead for not only food and water, but also necessary supplies and medicines. Rand said that as soon as he can replenish his recipe, he does it right away.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency also recommends:
• Have an emergency preparedness kit with enough food and water for at least 14 days. Other essential items include a battery-powered radio to receive emergency communications, flashlights, and essential medications.
• Have a whistle handy if you get caught in debris after a storm.
• Keep items like hand sanitizer, sanitary napkins, toilet paper, and waste bags to keep things clean.
• Have a personal/family emergency plan.
• Keep personal documents together, including medical documents, wills, passports, and personal identification.
*Melissa Tanji can be reached at [email protected].