2020 could be delivering another miserably hot summer to the state of Hawaii, with ocean surface temperatures projected to be normal or higher than usual by the National Weather Service.
“It’s quite a ways out. There’s some uncertainty right now but it’s looking like it’s going to be above normal and that would favor driving our temperatures up a little bit warmer than normal again,” National Weather Service meteorologist Derek Wroe said.
“The outlook right now is looking for the temperatures around here, the sea surface temperatures to remain near to slightly above normal going through the summer time and into the early part of the fall,” Wroe added.
2019 was the hottest year on record for Oahu, while the state had 273 days which tied or broke record-high temperatures. On August 31 of last year, Honolulu set a new record high for a single day with a heat index of 107. The high that day was 95 degrees, 6 above the average of 89.
The increase in the heat last year is attributed to a slight increase in ocean temperatures in the waters surrounding Hawaii.
“The primary driver of heating of the atmosphere is actually the air that contacts the surface. Out here we’re surrounded by the ocean, and when that ocean is warmer that air around the ocean contacts that it heats up more than normal,” Wroe added.
2020 is predicted to be an El Nino or La Nina neutral year, which is good in projecting an average or below-average hurricane season. Wroe says that the two phenomena don’t have much of an impact on our day-to-day heat.
“When you think about El Nino and La Nina it is talking about sea surface temperatures near the equator. We’re quite some distance displaced from there.”
In response to the heat wave of 2019, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has said that increased tree canopy cover could help cool communities. His Chief Resilience Officer, Josh Stanbro, has warned that climate change could mean these new temperatures are the norm. He advocates reducing carbon emissions to help.