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NOAA EXPECTS BELOW AVERAGE CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE SEASON
Hawaii Observes Hurricane Preparedness Week May 15-21

May 16, 2005 - Hurricane experts with NOAA’s National Weather Service expect two to three tropical cyclones to occur within the Central Pacific during the 2005 hurricane season. Typically, four to five tropical cyclones – one hurricane, two tropical storms and one or two tropical depressions – occur each year in the Central Pacific. The hurricane season officially begins June 1 and continues through November 30.

NOAA scientists construct seasonal hurricane outlooks by first analyzing and predicting the leading recurring patterns of climate variability in the tropics and then delineating the probable impacts on hurricane activity.

“Many factors must be considered when making the seasonal hurricane outlook, including the status of the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the Pacific,” said Jim Weyman, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “Data from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center show near normal conditions, which typically means less tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific.”

“In addition, large scale atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns will likely produce a below normal season in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Mexico,” said Muthuvel Chelliah, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the East and Central Pacific at the Climate Prediction Center. “In an average year, about half of the tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific develop first in the Eastern Pacific. Thus, a below normal season in the Eastern Pacific will likely contribute to a below normal season in the Central Pacific.”

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a proclamation making Hawaii a participant in National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 15-21), a collaboration between NOAA, the Department of Homeland Security and storm-vulnerable states to increase preparedness and safety among residents.

The theme for this year’s hurricane preparedness week in Hawaii - ‘Personal Preparedness – Saving Lives’ - urges people to take action now to develop a family emergency plan and not wait until a hurricane is on the way.

“Our mission is to inform people that a hurricane could strike Hawaii, despite the forecast of below normal activity in the Central Pacific,” said Weyman. “Although rare, hurricanes do hit the state and cause considerable damage. Hurricane Iniki in 1992 was a Category 3 storm that caused billions of dollars in damage.”

To prepare for an approaching storm, people should learn evacuation routes and shelter locations; establish a common assembling place for families if they are separated; determine a single contact person, such as a friend on the mainland, to use to pass messages to other family members; assemble a disaster supply kit with a flashlight, batteries, water, non-perishable food and adequate medicine supply; cover doors and windows with plywood or hurricane shutters; and move loose objects and furniture inside.

When the hurricane center issues watches and warnings, people should closely monitor radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins of the storm’s progress and instructions from civil defense authorities. “A hurricane watch or tropical storm watch means the potential of hurricane or tropical storm conditions exists for designated islands within 36 hours. A hurricane or tropical storm warning means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are expected to occur within 24 hours,” said Weyman.

This year, based on customer requests, meteorologists at NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center are testing a new product that shows wind speed probabilities based upon the uncertainties associated with the official tropical cyclone forecast track, intensity and wind structure. The experimental graphics and text products will show probabilities of winds of 39, 58 and 74 mph (34, 50 and 64 knots, respectively).

“The color-coded map will display the odds that a given area could face hurricane or tropical storm force winds,” said Nezette Rydell, warning coordination meteorologist at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “We believe the products will help people understand that they should not rely solely on the forecast track line when making decisions. Although track forecasts have improved, there is still a margin of error of where a storm can make landfall.”

Customers will be asked to provide comments on the usefulness of these experimental products during the 2005 tropical cyclone season at http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/pages/probwinds.php.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand atmospheric and climate variability and to manage wisely our nation's coastal and marine resources.

Media contact:

Chris Vaccaro, NOAA’s National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622

Related Web sites:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov
NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/

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  Page last modified: 11-Mar-2010 9:35 AM