Quiet hurricane
season predicted

An official attributes it to
the expected coming of La Nina

The National Weather Service predicts two to three hurricanes or tropical storms or depressions this year, a below-average hurricane season for Hawaii and the Central Pacific.

The average is 4.5 tropical cyclones -- hurricanes and tropical storms and depressions -- per season, according to weather service officials. Even so, meteorologists are asking people to take this year's Hurricane Awareness Week motto, "It Takes One -- Are You Prepared?" seriously.

"If one were to directly hit one of the Hawaiian Islands, there could be near total devastation," said Central Pacific Hurricane Center Director Jim Weyman.

Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Last year, there were two hurricanes and three tropical storms reported in the Central Pacific: Tropical Storms Alika, Lowell and Fausto and Hurricanes Ele and Huko.

Weyman attributes this year's below-average tropical cyclone prediction to the expected coming of La Nina, the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central Pacific that occurs on average every three to five years or so.

"The outlook from NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center indicates a cold event (La Nina) is much more likely to occur ... in the tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean by this summer," Weyman said.

"This, along with several other factors, contributed to the forecast of below-average number of tropical cyclones to affect the Central Pacific."

But scientists say the La Nina effect will bring the opposite effect in the Atlantic Ocean and bring drier and warmer-than-average conditions to the southern United States. As a result, this year's Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be more active than normal, with a potential for 11 to 15 tropical storms, of which six to nine of them will become hurricanes, with two to four classified as major hurricanes.

"If La Nina does develop as expected," said Vernon Kousky, NOAA's lead El Nino/La Nina forecaster, "it will likely bring increased Atlantic hurricane and tropical storm activity this year."

Though the Central Pacific region is less at risk than its Atlantic counterparts, Weyman warns families to be ready.

"Every home should have a survival kit, and everyone should take action when advised by Civil Defense," he said.


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