Isle hurricane season mostly calm
Hawaii had a light hurricane season this year with two tropical cyclones, Cosme and Flossie, approaching the islands and weakening before causing any notable damage.
However, Hurricane Flossie, which moved close to the Big Island Aug. 13, was the first tropical cyclone since Hurricane Jimena in 2003 that required watches and warnings in the main Hawaiian islands, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center noted yesterday in its wrap-up of the storm season that ended Friday.
Flossie deteriorated before passing the Big Island but spawned high waves that might have caused a chunk of the southeast shoreline to fall into the ocean, the center said. A 5.4 magnitude earthquake about the same time could have combined with the high waves to cause the landslide, the center suggested.
In its summary for the hurricane season, which runs from June through November, the National Weather Service center said Flossie maintained Category 4 strength the first few days after crossing into the Central Pacific.
"Flossie was a very impressive hurricane with a distinct eye embedded within a solid eye wall and a very impressive upper level outflow pattern," the center described.
The hurricane entered this region with sustained winds of 130 to 140 mph and had sustained winds of 39 mph or more extending about 100 miles from the center in a northern semicircle, the meteorologists said.
A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning were issued Aug. 13 for the Big Island but Flossie weakened to a tropical storm and was downgraded Aug. 15 to a tropical depression.
Although Flossie's center passed about 100 miles south of South Point, it triggered wave heights estimated at nearly 20 feet along the southeast coast, the center said.
"In fact, coincident with the passage of Flossie, a 44-acre lava bench slipped into the ocean during the night on 13 August," it said, noting a 5.4 magnitude earthquake occurred about the same time.
No significant damage or injuries were reported on the Big Island from Flossie.
Cosme was the first tropical cyclone of 2007, starting briefly as a "minimal hurricane" before crossing from the Northeastern Pacific Ocean into the Central Pacific as a tropical depression July 18, the hurricane center said.
"Hostile atmospheric conditions did not allow the depression to regain tropical storm intensity," it said. But the storm maintained sustained winds of at least 35 mph as it moved over the Central North Pacific, the center said.
It passed about 225 miles south of Hilo and drenched parts of the Big Island with up to seven inches of welcome rain in drought conditions.
The Central Pacific on average during hurricane season has three tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, tropical depressions, tropical storms and typhoons, according to the weather service.
The current La Nina conditions will continue through early 2008, the Climate Prediction Center predicted. With a La Nina, sea surface temperatures are colder, providing less energy for a tropical system to form. Typically, there are fewer tropical cyclones in a La Nina year, which was the case this year.
The hurricane season last year was more active with El Nino conditions and warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures. There were five tropical cyclones -- two hurricanes (Daniel and Ioke) and three tropical depressions.
Hawaii wasn't affected by Ioke, a Category 5 storm renamed Super Typhoon Ioke by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, but 88 residents of Wake Island were evacuated by the Air Force Aug. 28 and flown to Honolulu. About 70 percent of the buildings were damaged.
Hurricane Daniel was downgraded to a tropical depression after approaching Hawaii July 25.
2 storms pass isles during hurricane season
2007 Central Pacific hurricane season summary:
|» Tropical Depression Cosme
||Passed south of Big Island but provided much-needed rain
|» Hurricane Flossie
||Passed south of Big Island but generated large surf