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Hawaii News

Hurricane activity low this year in Pacific

Score one for the weatherman.

When the 2010 Pacific hurricane season kicked off in May, forecasters predicted a "below normal" season of hurricane and tropical storm activity in the Central Pacific.

With just over three weeks left to go in the season, it appears — fingers crossed — that the forecasts were accurate.

Based on La Nina conditions and the ongoing "low-activity era" the region has experienced over the last 15 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center and Climate Prediction Center predicted a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season, and just a 5 percent chance of increased activity.

The hurricane season started May 15 in the Eastern Pacific region and June 1 in the Central Pacific region, which includes Hawaii. Most storm activity in the Pacific typically occurs in the eastern region.

While the season started in dramatic fashion with the formation of Tropical Storm Agatha off the coast of Guatemala in May and a cluster of tropical storms (two of which developed into hurricanes) in June, the Pacific has been calm ever since. In fact, for the first time in 44 years, there were no named storms at all in July.

Of course, as Central Pacific Hurricane Center Director Jim Weyman cautioned back in May, even a single storm can have devastating effects.

Agatha killed at least 177 people, caused an estimated $1.7 billion in damage and left thousands homeless in Central America.

The strongest storm so far has been Hurricane Celia, which packed 160 mph winds in June, but never approached land.

While the period between June and November is the most fertile for hurricane formation, tropical storms and hurricanes can form any time.

The last hurricane to hit Hawaii was Iniki in 1992. The storm killed six people and caused more than $2 billion in damage.


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