As hurricane season begins, forecasters expect busier than normal year

Published: May. 23, 2017 at 9:01 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2017 at 6:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After two busy hurricane seasons, brace yourselves for an encore: Forecasters are expecting another above-average year for tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday that the Central Pacific is expected to see five to eight tropical cyclones in 2017.

An average season has four to five tropical cyclones, which include tropical depressions, tropical storm and hurricanes.

"The time to prepare for hurricane season is now," said Chris Brenchley, director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. "The forecast mdoels remains split on whether an El Nino will develop during the hurricane season or whether we'll remain in this near neutral state."

The hurricane season in Hawaii officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The weather service said there's a 40 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

But Bob Ballard, of the National Weather Service, pointed out that it only takes one hurricane to bring destructive winds and flooding to the islands.

"Whether we have an active season in the basin, or even a less-than-active season, does not indicate the danger to Hawaii," he said. "So we want everybody to always keep in mind that. Even with a below-normal season, if that were to come true, we could still be threatened, so we don't want people to let their guard down."

Hawaii has weathered busy hurricane seasons over the last two years, though most of the storms that threatened the islands never actually impacted the state.

Last year, the Central Pacific saw seven tropical cyclones -- two of which became major hurricanes.

The figure is still fewer than the record-breaking 2015 hurricane season, which had 15 tropical cyclones.

But last year's season did feature some hits -- and lots of rain.

In July, Tropical Storm Darby made landfall on Hawaii Island, marking the first time in recorded history that two storms struck the Big Island in three years (Darby in 2016 and Iselle in 2014).

Darby brought torrential rains to the state, but no serious wind damage. Oahu got nearly a foot rain from the system, which flooded roadways and homes.

A month later, Hawaii got the prospect of a double whammy, with Hurricanes Lester and Madeline. Both brought rain and high surf to the state, but remained far enough off shore to spare the state major impacts.

Over the course of the 2016 hurricane season, the eastern Pacific hurricane basin produced 21 named storms, including five major hurricanes.

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