With hurricanes, one is a devastating number
Forecasters expect fewer than average storms and hurricanes this year.
Weather experts have gotten pretty good at forecasting the number of storms the islands will see through the six months dubbed the "hurricane season."
In addition, civil defense, government officials and emergency agencies predictably advise residents to get ready to weather the weather early on, and predictably, too many households will ignore good counsel.
That's why when word goes out that a hurricane is approaching, thousands scurry to grocery and hardware stores, snatching food, flashlight batteries and water in a last-minute dash for provisions, often finding what they need in short supply.
Residents last year got a small taste of a storm when Flossie, a well-formed Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 to 140 mph, swept near the Big Island before losing steam.
This year, with slightly cooler ocean-surface temperatures prevailing through July, forecasts call for the number of hurricanes and tropical storms to be slightly lower than average -- at three to four rather than 4.3.
But that's no reason to lay back. During 1982, 10 storms and hurricanes developed in the Central Pacific. There was just one, Iwa, that brought ruin to Hawaii. In 1992, 11 storms churned harmlessly through the region. Again, only one, Iniki, made landfall, causing nearly $3 billion in damage.
In the words of Jim Weyman, director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, "we never know when that one is going to hit us."
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