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Monday, May 15, 2000

Central Pacific
may face up
to 6 storms

Hawaii's hurricane season
begins June 1 and continues
through Nov. 30

By Gregg K. Kakesako


The National Weather Service is predicting five or six storms during Hawaii's hurricane season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30.

Art That's near normal to slightly above the normal number.

Jim Weyman, director of the weather service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said his forecast is based "on the anticipated weakening of La Nina and statistical averages over the past 38 years."

Last year, there were two hurricanes -- Dora and Eugene -- and one tropical depression.

Hurricanes occur when winds are clocked at more than 74 mph, while tropical depressions are described as the weakest storm conditions, with winds recorded at speeds of less than 34 mph.

The La Nina (Spanish for girl child) phenomenon refers to the condition in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, when waters are exceptionally colder than normal. This weather pattern has dominated the past two years and will linger until August.

The weakening of La Nina, Weyman said, will result "in near normal to slightly above normal" tropical storm and hurricane conditions in the Pacific.

There are an average of 4.5 tropical storms, cyclones or hurricanes in the central Pacific in a year, he said.

La Nina has been responsible for warmer, drier conditions on the mainland, causing serious droughts in the Midwest, Great Plains, South and Southwest United States.

Since 1961, the central Pacific's tropical storms and hurricanes have occurred mainly between July and October, with August averaging the highest number -- 69.

Thirty-three hurricanes occurred in the central Pacific during the 20-year period beginning in 1979.

Between 1961 and 1999, there was an average of 1.2 hurricanes a year in the central Pacific.

Since 1959, three hurricanes have hit Hawaii. Iniki in 1992 was the state's worst natural disaster.

One of the best ways to get accurate updated warnings of hurricanes is through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather radio, Weyman said.

"The newest models can be programmed to sound an alarm when dangerous weather approaches," he said. "Every home, school and business should have a NOAA weather radio and be prepared to respond when the warnings are announced."

Central Pacific Hurricane Center
UH Storm tracker

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