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Hawaii could see above-average hurricane season

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The Central Pacific Hurricane Center this morning predicted a near- to above-normal hurricane season for the region this year due to El Nino conditions.

The center expects four to seven tropical cyclones for the Central Pacific basin, which includes Hawaii, for this season, which begins June 1.

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 over the past few years, including last year, when there was just one tropical cyclone in Hawaii, may have lulled people into a sense of complacency.

But El Nino conditions are correlated with higher than average tropical cyclone activity in the Central Pacific, so it is more important than ever to be prepared.

“As we’ve been reminded in seasons past and also recently with the typhoon in Guam — is it only takes impact from one,” he said, “and so with an increase in activity in the basin there’s obviously going to be the potential for more threats to land.”

The prediction includes a 50% chance of an above-normal season and 35% chance of a near-normal season, leaving a 15% chance of a below-normal season.

The National Weather Services’ Climate Prediction Center expects El Nino conditions to develop across the Pacific, resulting in above-average sea surface temperatures.

During El Nino, tradewinds weaken, according to NOAA, and warmer ocean waters cause the Pacific jet stream to move south of its neutral position.

NOAA said La Nina has the opposite effect, bringing stronger than usual tradewinds, while colder ocean waters in the Pacific push the jet stream northward. In the Pacific, this typically generates a greater amount of wind shear that helps to weaken tropical cyclones heading our way.

The Central Pacific hurricane season in Hawaii runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Officials urge the public to prepare for hurricane season with a family emergency plan in place and a disaster supply kit with at least two weeks’ worth of food, water, medicine, and other essentials.

Gov. Josh Green also urged residents to be prepared, and proclaimed May 21 to 27 to be Hurricane Preparedness Week in Hawaii.

More information on preparing for hurricanes is available here.

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