Hawaii is likely to have a milder hurricane season this year, experts say

NOAA experts are predicting a below-average hurricane season due to La Nina conditions.

Hawaii residents can expect a below-normal hurricane season this year, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

NOAA experts announcing their forecast for the 2024 hurricane season predict one to four tropical cyclones in the central Pacific basin.

Christopher Brenchley, director of the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, explained that the relatively mild nature of this season is due to cooling waters near the equator, which is expected to produce a La Nina condition. Such a condition could create additional wind shear near Hawaii and throughout the Central Pacific, potentially preventing tropical cyclones from developing.

Experts believe that the probability of La Niña occurring increases from mid to late summer.

Electric Beach Floats Calm Water Leeward Oahu Tropical Storm Hurricane Calvin Hawaii Dangerous Conditions Sign Blue Water in the Pacific Ocean
NOAA scientists predict a less severe hurricane season for 2024. (Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023)

NOAA's forecast marks a drastic change from current conditions across the Pacific, Brenchley said.

The 2023 season was characterized by El Niño conditions and was ultimately considered relatively normal. During this time, there were four tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific, one of which – Hurricane Dora – extended from the Eastern Pacific to the Western Pacific.

Even though the coming season is expected to be milder than last season, nothing is set in stone.

During the below-average 2020 hurricane season, Hurricane Douglas, the strongest hurricane to cross from the Eastern Pacific Basin into the Central Pacific Basin since 2018, narrowly passed parts of the Hawaiian Islands.

“Even if the expected activity is below normal, this is our chance to prepare,” said John Bravender, warning coordination meteorologist at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “We can't tell you if the below-normal activity will be a 2017 year where we barely have anything in the basin, or a 2020 year where Douglas passed just north of us.”

Brenchley urged the population to be prepared for anything and to stock up on enough emergency supplies to last 14 days.

“As we face the potential threat of a hurricane, it's important to prepare for that threat this season and not wait for a season when we expect it to be more active,” Brenchley said. “Any action you take now, no matter how small, will help the community be more resilient in the event of a storm hitting the community.”

Kevin Kodama, senior hydrologist at the National Weather Service's weather forecasting office in Honolulu, called for similar measures.

“One storm can change your life, your family and your community,” he said. “Before this year’s hurricane season begins, the State of Hawaii encourages everyone to be aware of their vulnerability to hurricane threats and develop an emergency response plan.”

Anna Harden

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