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NOAA predicts 4 to 7 tropical cyclones in Central Pacific

  • In this Aug. 31, 2015 photo, Andy Penn, of Hilo, watches as a large wave crashes off a sea wall on Hilo Bay.

After a record-setting hurricane season fueled by a strong El Nino in 2015, federal forecasters said today the 2016 central Pacific hurricane season will likely be only slightly above average as La Nina conditions take over.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center predict between four and seven tropical cyclones to form in the region this season, which runs from June 1 through the end of November. They said there is about a 40 percent chance the season will be above normal, a 40 percent chance it will be normal and a 20 percent chance it will be below normal.

As the El Nino pattern continues to dissipate, forecasters said La Nina, or below average water temperatures around the equator, will settle in as the summer gets underway.

“There are conflicting signals for the upcoming season, giving us a little bit more uncertainty in what 2016 has in store for us,” said Chris Brenchley, a warning coordination meteorologist at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

While average La Nina years produce only about two and a half storms per season, he said, there has been an uptick in storms in the past several years that indicate there may be more storms this season than would normally be associated with La Nina years. He said during previous “active phases,” such as in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were about six storms per season even when La Nina patterns were active.

The 2015 season, with 15 named storms, was the most active since scientists began recording patterns in 1970. None of those storms last year caused any major damage to the Hawaiian Islands, and no storms directly hit the archipelago. In 1992 and 1994 there were 11 storms each.

Officials urged the public to take precautions and be prepared for a storm before it starts to approach the islands.

“Learn from the past and plan for the future,” Brenchley said about the upcoming season.

Forecasters also said the 2015-2016 wet season in Hawaii was the fifth driest in the past 30 years, also caused by El Nino.

Moderate drought developed in January and had impacts on agriculture and those on rain catchment systems.

Forecasters also predicted a dry summer ahead, causing some concern about brush fires and agricultural impacts in the islands.

There has already been more than twice as much land burned in 2016 than in all of 2015, said National Weather Service Senior Service Hydrologist Kevin Kodama.

“That’s something that fire folks are really concerned about for this dry season,” Kodama said.

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  • If there is a 40% chance the season will be above average, a 40% chance the season will be normal, and a 20% chance that the season will be below average, then there is a 60% chance that the season will be average to below average. The first paragraph says that the season “will likely only be slightly above average,” but nothing in the data suggest this is the case. In fact, the data suggest exactly the opposite which is that the season should be slightly below average if the National Weather Service is correct. Am I missing something?

    Be prepared either way.

    • I think there’s virtually a 100% chance they just don’t know.
      Weather forecasting is apparently very far from an exact science.
      Last year they rang the alarm bells too many times for what turned out to all be non events.They’re wrong more often than they’re right, that much is certain.

  • I hope this doesn’t mean warnings on TV by NOAA every day (once or more). And stop raising the volume of the TV. It literally blasts in my ears because I wear headphones after 1000 pm and before 800 am so it doesn’t bother my condo neighbors on higher and lower floors. I received a couple of complaints!

  • As evidenced by their performance last year, the local office of the national weather service isn’t any better at forecasting storms than Tutu.
    They had Guy Hagi busy hyping so many non events last year that people started calling him Lie Hagi.

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