ISLE HURRICANE SEASON
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sam's Club shoppers Kendis Teho and her daughter Kaela, 6, grabbed a case of bottled water in September as they prepared for possible bad weather in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Residents should learn from Katrina, official says
Despite 2005 being a quiet storm season in the Pacific, Hawaii "dodged a bullet"
Hawaii was "very lucky" to escape destructive storms during this year's hurricane season, but residents should not forget the lessons of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, says the director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
"Those images from Louisiana and Mississippi were quite devastating. We need to be prepared in case something like that happens to the Hawaiian Islands," Jim Weyman said yesterday.
Weyman was among about 60 officials reviewing the past hurricane season at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane conference in Miami this week.
One of the topics of discussion was "how best to communicate the hurricane threat to the public," he said.
"We have to communicate that these threats are very real, and people should do what they're instructed to do in a given situation. We have to make sure messages become personal and result in people protecting themselves."
Most people do not understand that in a disaster officials cannot get food and water to them for three to seven days, Weyman said. "So people should have those supplies on hand to help themselves until help starts to arrive."
"We don't want them to lose those thoughts as we move into 2006."
Honolulu hosts international cyclone warning conference
Hurricane experts from cyclone warning centers will attend a conference hosted by the United States from Monday through Thursday.
The fifth annual Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Technical Coordination Conference will be held at the Honolulu Forecast Office of the National Weather Service at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Max Mayfield, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center in Miami, will be among the officials at the meeting. Others will include the directors of National Tropical Cyclone Warning Centers in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, India, Fiji and Le Reunion.
They will review operational procedures, standardization of information, use of Web sites, verification of forecasts and new research findings.
The conference is sponsored by the Tropical Cyclone Programme, part of the World Meteorological Organization's World Weather Watch, which establishes national and regionally coordinated systems to reduce damage from tropical cyclones.
Jim Weyman, director of NOAA's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said the goal is to review lessons learned during the past three years and "try to standardize things throughout the world where we can to better serve the world community."
THOUGH THE HURRICANE season ended Wednesday, hurricanes have formed in winter months, center officials warn.
The Central Pacific had three tropical cyclones during the past season -- below the normal average of four to five systems per season. Weyman's forecast in May for the season, which began June 1, was two to three tropical storm systems.
The first was Tropical Depression 1-C, which formed in the Central Pacific with maximum winds of about 28 mph. It developed southeast of the islands Aug. 3-4 and only lasted about 30 hours, he said.
The other two systems -- Hurricanes Jova and Kenneth -- moved in from the East Pacific.
Jova had winds of more than 115 mph for 36 hours, making it a Category 3 hurricane. It lasted in the Central Pacific from Sept. 18 to 24, contributing to high surf and some heavy rain on Oahu before moving north of the islands and dying.
Kenneth came into the Central Pacific as a hurricane and quickly became a tropical storm. As it moved toward the islands, from Sept. 26 to 30, it continued to weaken into a tropical depression, then a remnant low-pressure area.
The remnant low caused thunderstorms as it passed over the Big Island, with heavy rain on the windward side of the island.
At one time it looked as if four tropical cyclones were forming in a straight line and heading for Hawaii -- Jova, Kenneth, Lydia and Max, Weyman recalled.
"Luckily, we dodged the bullet. Kenneth died, and Lydia and Max died and moved more to the north before they came into our waters. They didn't even reach into the Central Pacific.
"We saw a lot of good things when Jova was approaching the islands, even 600 to 800 miles to the east of us," Weyman said.
After Hurricane Katrina pounded Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Hawaii residents saw the devastation and began buying food and water and thinking about family action plans for a disaster, he said.
THE 2005 HURRICANE season was significant for another reason, Weyman said: "From 36 to 120 hours, we had the smallest error in track forecast on record in the Central Pacific."
For example, he said the 36-hour forecasts averaged within 57 nautical miles of the actual hurricane positions, compared with a five-year average difference of 120 nautical miles.
"The guidance tools we used, the numerical models, have been very, very good," Weyman said. "Also, the experience of our forecasters." They beat the models and decreased errors even further, he said.
"We just have to be cautious, though," he said. "The storms were somewhat well behaved, and that helped. But other years, they might be tougher to forecast for us."
Said Andy Nash, director of operations at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, "One thing in our favor when we do our annual season forecast in May is when it's really active in the Atlantic, it tends to be quieter in the Pacific."
The Atlantic had 26 named storms this season, including 13 hurricanes.
With rising motion in the Atlantic, a kind of sinking motion occurs in the Pacific, Nash said. "It's kind of a seesaw effect."
He said the long-range outlook is for another active year in the Atlantic, which would probably mean a quiet phase for hurricane activity in the Central Pacific.
"But that doesn't mean we're not going to get hit," he said. "Jim's message is, even if it is quieter than normal, we have to be prepared."