LIHU‘E — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting between two and six tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific hurricane region in the upcoming 2020 hurricane season.
NOAA released their annual hurricane season prediction Wednesday, saying there is a 75% chance of near- or below-normal tropical cyclone activity during the Central Pacific hurricane season this year. The outlook also indicates a 25% chance of an above-normal season.
Tropical cyclone activity predicted includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. A near-normal season has 4 or 5 tropical cyclones.
The annual outlook is a general guide to the overall seasonal tropical cyclone activity in the Central Pacific basin, and does not predict whether, or how many, of these systems will affect Hawaii. The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30.
“This year we will likely see less activity in the Central Pacific region compared to more active seasons,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center in a Wednesday press release about the prediction. “Less activity is predicted since ocean temperatures are likely to be near-average in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean where hurricanes form, and because El Nino is not present to increase the activity.”
Last year, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced a 70% chance of above-normal tropical cyclone activity, predicting 5 to 8 tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific in 2019. NOAA counted five storms that year.
NOAA reports Hurricane Erick was the first tropical cyclone of the 2019 season in the Central Pacific, moving into the basin from the east on July 30. Erick rapidly intensified to a major hurricane (category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) later that day, then steadily weakened as it passed far south of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Tropical Storm Flossie entered the basin on August 3 and approached Hawaii from the east, eventually dissipating before reaching the islands. Tropical Depression 12-E entered the basin on September 4 and strengthened to Tropical Storm Akoni. Akoni was the first tropical cyclone to be named from the Central Pacific list of names since Hurricane Walaka in 2018.
Tropical Depression Kiko entered the basin on September 24 and immediately dissipated. Tropical Storm Ema, the second cyclone to be named from the Central Pacific list of names, developed southwest of the main Hawaiian Islands on October 12. Ema dissipated over the southern portion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument shortly before crossing between French Frigate Shoals and Maro Reef.
“Regardless of the number of tropical cyclones predicted, this outlook serves as a reminder to everyone in the State of Hawaii to prepare now,” said Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Wednesday’s 2020 outlook announcement. “Learn about hurricane hazards and where to find our forecasts, then make a plan so that you and your family stay healthy and safe.”
Kauai Emergency Management Agency weighed in on preparing for the upcoming hurricane season on Wednesday, reminding the public that everyone should have disaster kits on hand during this time of year. Disaster kits include at least a 14-day supply of non-perishable food, one gallon of water per person per day, a battery powered radio, flashlight, an extra supply of prescription medicines and other items specific to individual and family needs. It is also recommended that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks and hand sanitizers be included in disaster kits.
“This year’s outlook is around normal, however we remind the public that it just takes one storm to impact and adversely affect our community, even without a direct hit,” said KEMA administrator Elton Ushio.
Central Pacific Hurricane Center issues a Hurricane or Tropical Storm Watch when hurricane or tropical storm-force winds are possible within 48 hours.
More info: kauai.gov/kema
Last season 11th wettest
National Ocean and Atmospheric released the 2019-2020 wet season rainfall summary for Hawai‘i on Wednesday, saying the season was overall the 11th wettest wet season in the last 30 years. Most rain totals were greater than 120% of average. At Lihu‘e airport rainfall totals reached 39.4 inches, making it the fifth wettest October-April in the last 30 years.
In general, the wet season started and ended with ENSO-neutral conditions, according to NOAA.
Predictions for the May through September 2020 dry season are for below-normal precipitation through the dry season, NOAA said Wednesday. Existing areas of moderate drought in Maui County and the Big Island expected to worsen and expand. New areas of drought expected to develop in the leeward areas of Oahu and Kauai by mid-summer.