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2017 Hurricane Outlook: Slightly Above Average, 5-8 Cyclones

Wayne Yoshioka

The Hurricane Season Forecast for the state was announced today.  HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka was there and files this report.   

The National Weather Service predicts a neutral to slightly above average hurricane season in the Central Pacific this year.  Chris Brenchley is the Central Pacific Hurricane Center director.

“The official seasonal outlook for 2017 for the Central Pacific calls for 5-8 tropical cyclones , the normal levels are 4-5 per year.  The outlook doesn’t specifically predict the amount of tropical cyclones that will directly threaten the state but rather addressed the overall activity in the basin.”

The official outlook calls for moderate ocean temperatures in the Eastern Pacific with a slight chance of warmer El Nino conditions which increase tropical storm formations and intensity.   But, Brenchley warns, 25 years ago Hurricane Iniki developed 145 mile per hour winds and hit Kaua’i and O’ahu, causing $1.8 billion in damage and 6 deaths.

“There are years when we can have a lot of activity; those storms avoid the state.  We can have a year where we have one singular tropical cyclone and it directly impacts the state.  So it doesn’t matter how many; it matters where those cyclones ultimately end up.”

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Maria Lutz, American Red Cross Regional Disaster officer, briefs media on preparedness measures.

Meanwhile, State and Federal Disaster Readiness Agencies are reminding residents to plan ahead and be prepared.   American Red Cross of Hawai’i Regional Disaster Officer, Maria Lutz, says residents living in tsunami and flood zones, storm surge areas or exposed ridge lines, should evacuate.  But she says, for those who do evacuate, hurricane evacuation centers throughout the state will have limited space.

“If you do evacuate to a public emergency shelter, you will have about 10 feet of space to ride out the storm.  So as much as possible, we’re encouraging the public to shelter at home.  Some of the requirements for you to shelter at home would be to have a home that was built after 1980 and to make sure that your home’s not single wall construction or made of a light wood construction.”

Residents should also plan to stock 2 weeks of food that require no cooking; one gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and sanitation; and, anticipate no water, electrical or sewage service for up to 14 days.  Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency administrator, Vern Miyagi, recommends stocking supplies now, not the day before a hurricane is scheduled to hit.  He says plan for 14 days without any outside assistance.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Vern Miyagi, administrator, Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency

“When you take a look at realistically if a major hurricane hit us and they close the port down, airports are all shut off, also the infrastructure shut down, it would take more than 7 days to restore everything together.  So if the public can be self-sufficient for 14 days or so that will allow us to put our resources to getting the infrastructure back up again rather than the mass care needs of the public.

Hawai’i’s Hurricane Season starts June 1st and runs through November 30th.    Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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