Residents are urged to prepare despite predictions that are milder than normal
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 19, 2011
This year's hurricane season should bring only a few storms to the central Pacific, but forecasters urged residents to remain vigilant.
Two to four tropical cyclones are predicted for the season that starts June 1 and ends Nov. 30, thanks in part to the cooling effects of the La Nina weather phenomenon. That is lower than the typical four to five tropical cyclones per season.
Cyclones include tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes.
Ray Tanabe, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said yesterday there's a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season, 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 5 percent chance of an above normal season.
"Whether the outlook calls for two tropical cyclones or 10 tropical cyclones, we have to prepare the same way every year regardless of the outlook," said Tanabe, also meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Honolulu Forecast Office. "We can't let our guard down."
Since 1995 storm activity in the central Pacific and eastern Pacific has remained relatively low, Tanabe said.
While La Nina is predicted to dissipate by June, Tanabe said it is reasonable to expect the ongoing atmospheric conditions associated with La Nina to continue through the middle or end of the summer.
The central Pacific goes through 20-year cycles of below-normal to above-normal activity, said Kevin Kodama, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service. "When the Atlantic is active, the eastern and central Pacific tend to be less active and vice versa. In the '80s and '90s, we were active and the Atlantic was quiet. Now the Atlantic is very active and we're quiet. It's kind of like a see-saw."
Hurricane Iniki in September 1992 was the last to hit the islands directly. Kauai took the brunt of the storm, which damaged or destroyed more than 6,000 homes.
Handbooks and upcoming workshops will offer tips on hurricane preparedness, including how to retrofit homes to prevent damage.
A children's book called "The 3 Io Brothers and the Big Bad Hurricane" is also available. Kodama's daughter, Keri, wrote and illustrated the book as a community service project while she was a student at Hawaii Baptist Academy. The book provides a local context for Hawaii's children about the importance of being prepared.
A checklist for families is available in the book.
Tanabe said kids are often a good venue to remind adults about hurricane preparedness.
The University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program funded the publication of 3,000 copies. More are expected to be made. Those interested in requesting a copy can call Cindy Knapman of Sea Grant at 956-7410.
>> University of Hawaii Sea Grant College’s “Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards”: seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/sites/seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/files/publications/web_homeownershandbook_0.pdf
>> Federal Emergency Management Agency tips on securing your property: www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/index.shtm
Here is a schedule of workshops on retrofitting measures to protect homes from hurricanes:
>> June 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center, Kahului.
>> June 11, 1 to 4 p.m., Mission Memorial Auditorium, downtown Honolulu.
>> June 16, 6 to 9 p.m., Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.
>> June 25, 8:30 a.m. to noon, University of Hawaii-Hilo Classroom Building Lecture Hall.
>> July 9, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Kapolei High School.
>> July 16, 8:30 a.m. to noon, West Hawaii Civic Center.