Monday, May 16, 2022|
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For the second consecutive year, Hawaii experienced a milder-than-average hurricane season.
There were only three tropical cyclones that crossed the 140-degree longitude line separating the Eastern Pacific from the Central Pacific in 2021, according to John Bravender, the warning coordinator meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu. That’s one more than made its way into the Central Pacific in 2020.
“Even though we had a quiet year, it was even quieter than those three tropical cyclones indicate, with them weakening very quickly east of the state,” Bravender said of Hawaii’s hurricane season, which began June 1 and ended Tuesday.
Tropical Depression Felicia crossed into the Central Pacific on July 20, followed by Tropical Depression Jimena on Aug. 6 and Tropical Storm Linda on Aug. 19-20. Felicia and Jimena were packing maximum sustained winds of 35 mph when they crossed over, while Linda brought 50 mph maximum sustained winds.
Jimena’s remnants moved across the state on Aug. 10-11 and produced brief bursts of heavy rainfall over Ka‘u, as well as east Kauai on Aug. 11. Linda’s remnants traversed the state on Aug. 23 and produced minor flooding on the Big Island, Maui, Molokai and Oahu.
There were no reports of significant flooding or wind damage from either storm, according to Bravender.
“This year was a lot like 2017, which was another quiet year. Even though we had three tropical cyclones, two of them weakened and dissipated, just after crossing 140,” Bravender said. “We also had a below-average season last year but almost got swiped by Hurricane Douglas.”
Douglas, active in late July 2020, was a Category 3 hurricane generating winds of up to 115 mph — and was making a beeline toward the Big Island before taking a northward turn. Tropical storm warnings were issued, but the island was spared any significant impacts.
On the other side of the nation, the Atlantic had its third-most active hurricane season on record, with 21 named storms, including seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes — Category 3 or higher — according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hurricane Ida, which steamrolled Louisiana in late August, caused an estimated $64.5 billion in damage — more than the estimated damage total of all the hurricanes combined in the record-setting year of 2020.
Hawaii’s hurricane season also was a far cry from the Central Pacific’s record-setting season in 2015.
“We had 15 tropical cyclones during the hurricane season in 2015,” Bravender said. “We had another tropical depression form in December, and we had a hurricane evolve in January of 2016, so that was a very active year for us.
“We had very warm water across the area, which led to those tropical cyclones out of season.”
Hurricane Pali, which Bravender referred to, was the first Pacific hurricane to form in January since Eleka in 1992.
The Central Pacific in 2015 was experiencing a strong El Nino — a pattern of warm ocean surface water — which Bravender called “a big driver for hurricane seasons.” Currently, there are neutral conditions — neither El Nino or La Nina — in the Central Pacific.
And while hurricane season is officially pau, that doesn’t mean Hawaii residents should drop their guards when it comes to potential damage from inclement weather, Bravender said.
“We’re not expecting any out-of-season tropical cyclones this year, but we are expecting a very active wet season for us in Hawaii,” he noted. “So, the same type of preparations people take for hurricane season — having supplies on hand, knowing if they’re susceptible to flooding, knowing where and how to get warning information, and being ready for dangerous weather — also apply to the wet season. We could have thunderstorms or heavy rainfall that could cause damage, as well, during winter.”
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