HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii and the central Pacific basin should expect two to four hurricanes, tropical depressions or tropical storms this year, federal forecasters said Wednesday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual outlook predicts a 60% chance of a below-average season. The Central Pacific region sees about four or five tropical cyclones on average per year.
Hurricane season in Hawaii lasts from June 1 through November. August and September are historically active months.
Officials said lower-than-average sea temperatures associated with La Nina east of Hawaii, where the storms form, factored into this year’s forecast.
La Nina is a natural cooling of parts of the equatorial Pacific that changes weather patterns around the world. The opposite El Nino pattern creates above average ocean temperatures and has been present during some of the most active hurricane seasons in the Pacific, including 2015 when there were 16 storms in the Pacific basin central.
The La Nina motif has been present for several years, which is unusual.
The last major hurricane to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which caused extensive damage in Kauai.
In 2018, the huge and mighty Hurricane Lane made a last-minute turn and narrowly spared Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous island.