WAILUKU - Even though the Central Pacific Hurricane Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal hurricane season that doesn't mean residents should be complacent about monitoring the weather or being prepared for a storm, a Kihei weather analyst said.
Last week, the center forecast three to five tropical cyclones forming in the Central Pacific during the 2009 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. An average season has four or five.
Tropical cyclones include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
"That's not a call for not paying attention," said Glenn James, senior weather analyst at the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei.
He said a near-normal or below-normal hurricane season doesn't mean that tropical cyclones will be of less intensity, as forecasters cannot predict the intensity of storms.
James stressed that now is the time for people to start paying more attention to the weather and get prepared.
* WHAT: Hurricane Season Preparedness
Workshop will focus on the 2009 hurricane
season outlook and will feature experts from the National Weather Service.
* WHEN: 3 to 5 p.m. Friday
* WHERE:?Pacific Disaster Center, 1305 N. Holopono St., Suite 2, Maui Research and
Technology Park, Kihei.
* To register:?Available to about 100 participants. To reserve a spot, call Jen Stolpe at the center at 891-0525 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
The Pacific Disaster Center will hold a public workshop on "Hurricane Season Preparedness" from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at its headquarters in Kihei.
Speakers will include meteorologists from the National Weather Service Honolulu Forecast Office. They are Meteorologist-in-Charge Jim Weyman and Warning Coordination Meteorologist Ray Tanabe. The Pacific Disaster Center's Executive Director Ray Shirkhodai and James will also participate.
James said anyone curious about hurricanes, emergency responders and residents of oceanfront home or buildings are encouraged to attend.
Officials will be able to address various questions, including those that come up often from residents, such as why Kauai has been hit multiple times by hurricanes while Maui has not.
James said the last time that Maui was hit directly by a hurricane was in the 1870s. The Kohala Hurricane first hit the Big Island, then hit the Valley Isle.
But in the past 50 years, Kauai has suffered the brunt of the damage from Hurricanes Dot in 1959, Iwa in 1982, and Iniki in 1992.
James said that Kauai has been unlucky.
"That fact does not mean the other islands won't get hit (directly) by a hurricane," James said.
The Honolulu-based Central Pacific Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center came up with this season's forecast calling for an 80 percent chance of a near-normal or below-normal season. The outlook also indicates a 20 percent chance of an above-normal season.
James said that sea waters are warmer during hurricane season. When they get to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the conditions are "more ripe" for a tropical cyclone to start.
He said the combination of warm water and a low pressure area forming over the warm waters can cause thunderstorms to start.
When the thunderstorms occur and conditions are right, a tropical depression can form, and with the right conditions continuing a hurricane can form, James said.
Hurricanes have winds of at least 75 miles per hour, James said.
Prior to the beginning of the hurricane season, the Coast Guard is also urging all mariners to be prepared.
They offer these tips:
* If you live or boat in an area prone to hurricanes or heavy weather, know your local and national weather reporting sources and monitor them continuously.
* Contact local marinas and ask for advice.
* Remove small boats from the water and take them to a secure location. Ensure that the trailer and boat are secured above likely flood areas. Remove all loose items. Ensure that the boat is tied securely to the trailer.
* If your boat is too large to be removed from the water, move it to a safe haven well before the storm approaches.
For more information see:
* Coast Guard Storm Center: www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/
* Coast Guard Boating Safety Division: www.uscgboating.org/
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/
* Central Pacific Hurricane Center: www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.