Hurricanes on horizon

LIHUE — Another cyclone season is winding up, and forecasters are predicting more storms than last year.

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released predictions calling for 5 to 8 tropical cyclones in the hurricane season from June 1 through Nov. 30.

“This 2017 hurricane season marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Iniki, which brought life-changing impacts that have lasted more than a generation,” said Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

An average hurricane season has a prediction of 4 to 5 tropical cyclones. The outlook predicts a 40 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

Predictions include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

The outlook reflects the possible transition to a weak El Nino during the hurricane season, along with a prediction for near or above-average ocean temperatures in the main hurricane forming region, and a near or weaker-than-average vertical wind in the same area, according to Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center.

“If El Nino develops, it may become strong enough to produce an above-normal season,” Bell said.

He said people should plan and prepare now for the upcoming hurricane season, which could become the third above-normal season in a row.

He encouraged residents to make sure structures will withstand the force of a hurricane, and to practice an evacuation plan.

“Ensure you have a way to get the latest official forecast and emergency information and assemble the supplies you might need,” Bell said. “Doing these things now will ensure we will all be weather-ready and disaster resilient well before the storms threaten.”

Forecasters say the Central Pacific basin may also be shifting toward a longer-term period of increased tropical cyclone activity, in response to changes in global sea surface temperatures patterns in both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Historically, those shifts last from 25 to 40 years.

In 2016, forecasters predicted seven tropical cyclones for the season, and six appeared according to NOAA, which is slightly above the seasonal average. Hurricane Pali occurred in January 2016, bringing the total to seven storms in the calendar year.

In 2015, NOAA recorded 16 tropical cyclones, and in 2014 the number was five.

“It doesn’t matter how many, it matters where those cyclones may end up,” said Brenchley.

Hurricane preparedness tips

• Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.

• Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate

• If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.

• Make a family emergency communication plan.

• Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications.To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”

For your home

• Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.

• Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.

• Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.

• Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.

• Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.

— ready.gov/hurricanes

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