Unless you’ve been on a news blackout you’ve heard about the hurricane heading for Hawaii. This after a small earthquake rattled the Island this morning, their time.
The reason this story is getting so much attention is because of several reasons:
1. Hurricanes hitting anywhere in the United States are big news, even minimal ones.
2. Hurricanes and tropical systems are more unsual in Hawaii
3. It’s Hawaii, it’s a paradise of beauty, no one wants to see it damaged.
4. Only three hurricanes have hit Hawaii since 1950 and the last was in 1992
5. There is a second storm that will move close to, but likely miss the area.
The good news and there is some, is that the storm is weakening as it approaches the big Island. You won’t hear about the damage and impact until Friday our time because of the large time difference. I think the biggest impact will be from wave action and heavy rain. Although most folks associate the word hurricane with big winds, it’s often the water, both fresh and salt that does the most damage in these situations.
Since it has been over 2 decades since the last big storm, some of the weaker trees have also not been culled out of the system. I think one of the reasons we here in New England saw so much tree damage in Irene was because of the fact we hadn’t had that kind of a wind storm in many years. Of course, tropical trees are built differently and palms don’t capture the wind in the same way as a maple tree.
Iselle, which is the first of two hurricanes in that part of the Pacific, was about 300 miles southeast of Hilo and moving toward the Big Island at a speed of 18 mph. They will start to feel the effects of the storms late today their time and especially on Friday morning.
The second storm, hurricane Julio is a bit stronger now with maximum winds of 100 mph. It’s further away of course, about 1,230 miles southeast of Hilo.
The reason Hawaii doesn’t get many tropical systems isn’t because of the temperature of the water. The water, if you have ever been there, is warm enough to allow a hurricane to keep churning away. Unlike the water off our coast which is too cold to keep
hurricanes very strong for long.
This time of year there is something called the Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (above image) or TUTT which controls the upper levels winds over that part of the Pacific. These winds blow in such a way that the storms are forced to miss the Hawaiian Islands. Sometimes, depending on things like El Nino and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and other teleconnections the TUTT can shift or become weak and allow a hurricane or tropical storm to impact the Islands.
Keep up with the latest forecast @growingwisdom on Twitter.