Forecasters: Hawaii's hurricane season for the record books not - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Forecasters: Hawaii's hurricane season for the record books not over yet

Hawaii has had a very active hurricane season, and officials warn there's still time for Hawaii to get a direct hit. Hawaii has had a very active hurricane season, and officials warn there's still time for Hawaii to get a direct hit.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

On Monday night, Hurricane Olaf is forecast became the 15th named tropical cyclone in the Central Pacific this year.

Experts predicted a busier than usual hurricane season, but say they had no idea it would be this active.

According to officials with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, the weather phenomenon known as El Nino is to blame.

It causes a warming of the ocean water, which is the perfect fuel for hurricanes. Experts say during a typical season for the Central Pacific, there are around four to five tropical cyclones; this year is already running more than three times the average.

Of the 14 tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific this season, all but one were named -- shattering the previous record of 11 set in 1992 and 1994.

"When you have warmer than normal ocean water there is a lot more energy that can be supplied to the atmosphere, and so we tend to see more frequent hurricanes and we tend to see more intense hurricanes when we have strong El Nino in place like we do this year," said Robert Ballard, science and operations officer for the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

And, Ballard pointed out, there's still six weeks left in the hurricane season.

"With an El Nino as strong as this one it's more likely that we could see an out-of-season system, so something even developing after Nov. 30 into December," said Ballard.

Experts say tropical cyclones that form toward the end of October and November have the potential to be even more dangerous.

"The season's not over yet and there's no guarantees," Ballard said. "In fact, often our biggest hurricane threats come during the middle to latter part of the hurricane season -- when the upper level pattern is more favorable for hurricanes to re-curve and get closer to the Hawaiian Islands."

Experts say the islands been lucky so far, but they don't want anyone to have misconceptions that Hawaii can't get hit.

"We're a small target, which is good. We've had a lot of systems and we've managed to get missed, that's great," Ballard said. "But we're also a very vulnerable target and if one of those were to do direct damage then we would really be in a lot of trouble here. We don't think that it would take a hurricane to do a lot of damage here even a tropical storm could bring tons of rainfall and lots of wind and lots of problems."

As for the potential damaging power of those late-season storms, experts point to Hurricane Iwa, which hit a week before Thanksgiving 1982 and caused more than $300 million dollars in damage.

Officials say they understand residents might be experiencing "storm fatigue," but they caution against apathy and want to remind everyone to remain prepared.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly