Central Pacific may see 8 hurricanes

LIHUE — Climate conditions point to an above-average amount of storms for the upcoming hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center has announced.

Its 2015 Hurricane Season Outlook is calling for between five and eight tropical cyclones compared to last year’s outlook of four to seven.

“The outlook indicates the potential for a more active hurricane season versus what we saw in 2014,” said Elton Ushio, Kauai Civil Defense Agency manager, in a statement.

Today is the official start to hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30.

Ushio said being prepared is “the single most important thing that residents, visitors, businesses and government can do prior to any natural disaster.”

“The Kauai Civil Defense Agency would like to remind everyone to prepare, plan ahead, stay informed,” he said.

Tom Evans, acting director at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said an average season has four to five tropical cyclones; however, the outlook for the 2015 season calls for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 5 percent chance of a below- normal season.

Evans said the outlook is based upon El Nino — the warming of the ocean surface along the equator — continuing to possibly strengthen as the hurricane season progresses.

“When we see that warming, it gives a better chance of getting more tropical cyclones in the Eastern and Central Pacific,” he said. “Therefore, we are forecasting the above-normal seasons.”

Additionally, El Nino favors more westward-tracking storms from Eastern Pacific into the Central Pacific.

Evans gave the public three safety tips to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

“I encourage everyone to become weather-ready by signing up for weather alerts, developing and practicing a family emergency plan and building an emergency kit before hurricane season begins,” Evans said. “Now is the time to make sure that you and your family are ready and prepared.”

Hurricane Iselle — with wind speeds up to 70 mph — impacted the southeast- portion of Hawaii Island last August, causing $66 million in damages.

Iselle dumped 6 inches of rain on Kauai and up to 9.58 inches along the Kilohana Ridge.

The state kept a close eye on other hurricanes last year. Also in August, Hurricane Genevieve formed southwest of Hawaii, while Julio passed by to the north. And in October, Ana skirted south of the islands.

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