El Nino intensifies; hurricane season's outlook - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

El Nino intensifies; hurricane season's outlook

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Today kicks off hurricane season for the Eastern Pacific, and even though we are in the Central Pacific, we need to keep an eye to the East for any development, especially with the rise of a strong El Nino year.

Last season, strong winds, battering waves, record rain and the first landfall in decades impacted Hawaii Island due to Tropical Storm Iselle originating over the Eastern Pacific.

As we get later in the season, systems like Iselle and Julio track towards the islands, and those can be threats.

As we head into a new season, forecasters are raising the odds of El Nino to intensify this year.

They are going for an 80% chance -- that is pretty high for them -- that El Nino will last all the way until 2015.

For Hawaii, that will likely mean an increased surge of moisture during the summer months, bringing above average rain to the state.  But as we head into the winter, the trend flip flops with lighter periods of winds and drier weather that could lead to drought conditions.

The one thing I think everyone is really interested in this time of year is of course: What is hurricane season going to bring? We know in past El Nino events, warm waters is one factor generating hurricanes in the Central Pacific.

There are already signs of El Nino, and the latest outlook suggests it will be a strong El Nino. The Climate Prediction Center meteorologists say it could potentially be one of the strongest ones in almost two decades, but there are so many factors to consider when it comes to hurricanes.

The 1997 El Nino created a lot of tropical cyclones in the basin. There were 9 tropical depressions and storms, but there were no hurricanes at all anywhere in the Basin, so what that tells us is that there is more to it than just looking at El Nino.

Right now, the Western Pacific is seeing a lot of activity.

Typhoon Dolphin is a reminder that the hurricane season is starting to spin up. Essentially, the westerly winds along the equator are helping to generate these typhoons, and if that sort of pattern were to spread in the Central Pacific,  it may be favorable for development in our basin too.

A strengthening El Nino would also bring relief to a drought-stricken California and here in Hawaii.  With the Central Pacific Hurricane Season kicking off in June, we should take this time to prepare.

“Aug, Sept, Oct... When we typically see the most threats to Hawaii."

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