The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced Tuesday that climate conditions point to an above-normal hurricane season for Hawaii and the Central Pacific Basin this year.
For 2015, the outlook calls for a 70-percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25-percent chance of a near-normal season and a five-percent chance of a below-normal season.
Five to eight tropical cyclones may affect the Central Pacific this season. An average season has four-five tropical cyclones, which include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
This outlook is based upon the expectation of El Niño continuing and possibly strengthening as the hurricane season progresses. El Niño decreases the vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific, favoring the development of more and stronger tropical cyclones. It also favors more westward-tracking storms from the eastern Pacific into the central Pacific. This combination typically leads to an above-normal Central Pacific hurricane season.
This outlook is a general guide to the overall seasonal hurricane activity and does not predict whether, or how many, of these systems will affect Hawaii.
When El Nino conditions are present, the ocean waters in the equatorial North Pacific are warmer than usual.
Warm waters are the fuel source for hurricanes. You need that warm water not only to form, but to keep hurricanes thriving.
Generally, the minimum is 80 degrees or higher at the surface. Some of the storms will spawn south of Mexico and could move thousands of miles west to the Central Pacific, which is our backyard.
There is a correlation between El Nino years and hurricanes in Hawaii. During these years, we’ve had storm counts of five to 11 storms a season.
It was during these years we saw Iwa, Iniki and, during a weak El Nino, Iselle. All were direct hits.
Speaking of tropical cyclone development, there are currently several thunderstorms in the East Pacific. One cluster of thunderstorms has about an 80 percent chance of tropical cyclone development.
It’s a good example of a system that is very far away and not a threat right now, but one to watch.
Residents are urged to be fully prepared before the hurricane season, which begins Monday, June 1, and runs until Monday, November 30.
As a precaution, many may remember some of the damage done by Tropical Storm Iselle to Hawaii Island and Maui last year.Related Links:
- Watch our 30-minute hurricane preparedness special “Surviving a Storm” online here.
- Download our KHON2 weather app here.