Central Pacific Hurricane Center meteorologist explains threat of tornados from Hurricane Lane

Live coverage happening now on KHON2 on-air and online. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center releases storm updates at 2, 5, 8, and 11 o’clock.

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Kamaka Pili is at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, asking your questions to the center’s meteorologists as Hurricane Lane approaches. Question? Email Kamaka.Pili@KHON2.com.

Here’s the Q&A from just after 3 a.m. Friday morning:

Q: At this point what type of winds, with the 2 a.m. update, can we expect for islands in the track of Hurricane Lane?

A: The highest probability is that we will see tropical storm force winds. Of course, Oahu and Maui and Molokai are under a hurricane warning, so there is still the potential for hurricane force wind.

Q: When we are talking about hurricane and tropical storm force winds, can you clarify the intensity?

A: For a tropical storm it is generally about 35 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour. Higher than that is when you can get into the hurricane force winds. 

Q: Unfortunately, Lahaina has a fire going on. Can the wind fuel that and make it more challenging?

A: Wind is something that can enhance a fire and spread it very quickly. The good news is that firefighters are on the scene and they will do everything they can to mitigate it before the stronger wind picks up. 

Q: This is from a viewer in Lahaina—they haven’t been experiencing rain, and that’s something we’d like to see given that fire. Is there a change for when the rains will arrive based on the 2 a.m. update?  

A: With the 2 a.m. update, the track did not change much. So we are still looking at later Friday into Saturday for the rain to arrive. Hopefully they will get the fire out sooner rather than later and we will not have to rely on the rain. 

Q: Looking at the particular image with the forecast track and the cone of the uncertainty, some islands may be outside that cone of uncertainty. Does that mean that portion or particular island is out of the area that will see impact/threat from the storm? 

A: No, absolutely not. That cone of uncertainty is only indicating where the center of the hurricane could be. But the impacts extend a good 300 miles away from the center. If the center of the hurricane is on the right side of the cone, almost all of the islands will be getting impacts from the hurricane. 

Q: Talking about wind, what is the difference in being in a one level, a two-story house or a high-up condo, in the threat level from intensity of wind?

A: The wind is stronger the higher you go up because wind near the surface has to deal with friction of the land, trees, buildings, etc., which slows the wind down.

Q: So, it’s good to stay away from windows and a good idea is to put curtains up?

A: Yes, that is something people do in the Midwest to protect from tornados—they use heavy curtains or a mattress so if the glass shatters, it will stay near the window.

Q: A good point on tornados. That is a definite possibility here as an impact from Lane on the islands?

A: In the tropics, you do not think of tornados being a big impact but they can occur here, especially with a hurricane in the area. That means the atmosphere is unstable and there are a lot of thunderstorms within a hurricane. A thunderstorm has the potential to spin up a tornado quickly. 

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