The large swath of the Pacific that includes the islands could see four to seven tropical cyclones during the upcoming hurricane season, weather forecasters in Hawaii said Wednesday.
Tom Evans, acting director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said during a briefing that the region encompassing about one-fourth of the Pacific Ocean north of the equator has an 80 percent chance of a normal or wetter than normal hurricane season.
The outlook is partly because of a 65 percent chance that unusually warm sea surface temperatures develop in the Pacific near the equator this summer, Evans said. The phenomenon known as El Nino generally leads to more active hurricane seasons.
“That does have a tendency to give us more tropical cyclones in our basin and also allows them to hang on a little bit longer toward the end on the season,” Evans said.
Evans said it’s unclear whether any of the cyclones – including tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes – would actually hit Hawaii. The state has been directly hit by hurricanes three times since 1950, though the region has had 147 tropical cyclones over that time.
Officials said hurricane season runs May through September in Hawaii, though Evans said the wet season could linger into November.
Kevin Kodama, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said Hawaii is likely to see more rainfall than usual in August and September.
Officials from various agencies used the briefing to encourage people to prepare properly for the season by storing emergency supplies and water.
“The goal is that when a watch or advisory happens, people don’t have to go to the store,” said Dennis Hwang, a hazard specialist for the University of Hawaii Sea Grant.
Bruce Coppa, chief of staff for Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, presented a proclamation declaring next week hurricane preparation week in the state.
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