We held our last Kaneohe/Kahaluu Hazard Awareness And Response Program on November 24. We’ll skip
December and the next class will be on January 26 at the LDS church near King school.
Tony Reynes, meteorologist at the Pacific Hurricane Center, discussed severe weather and specifically how tropical storms can impact Hawaii. His responsibility is to provide timely warnings of approaching severe weather. Information is provided the public through television and through the NOAA weather radio system. He strongly recommended that everyone purchase a weather radio that can be charged by both the sun and by cranking.
It’s important to everyone know the difference between a hurricane watch in a hurricane warning. A watch indicates that severe weather can impact the islands within 24 to 36 hours. Everyone should have at least seven days supplies needed to be independent of any store. When you hear a severe storm warning check your supplies and make sure your go-kit is ready to take with you in case you need to evacuate. A hurricane warning means a storm is expected within 24 hours. This is when you should be boarding up your windows and securing your belongings as best you can.
Plan for an extended period of a week or more to be without power. ATMs won’t be working and filling stations will not be able to pump gas. Don’t expect any government help for at least a week. The government’s first priority to is to restore the infrastructure we all depend on.
We learned a tropical depression can form with winds of less than 39 mph. A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm when it’s winds range between 39 miles an hour and 73 miles per hour. Hurricanes have winds stronger than 73 mph. Sustained winds are measured in one minute increments. When a storm has maximum sustained winds of 70 miles an hour it can produce gusts over 100.
Many people think that Hawaii will never be hit by a hurricane. In reality, Dot hit us in 1959,Iwia in 1982 and Inki in 1992. All those years were El Niño years when the waters around Hawaii were exceptionally warm. We learned that because of our current strong El Niño our hurricane season will extend into mid-January.
A hurricane presents all the risks that lesser storms might cause. In addition to high winds, hurricanes can create a storm surge of up to 20 to 30 feet, they can spawn tornadoes and will cause heavy rain and flash flooding. Maximum sustained winds in excess of 150 miles an hour will cause catastrophic damage with most of our single wall homes destroyed.
The El Niño of 2015 has been the strongest in recorded history. As of the end of November we have had 15 tropical storms form in the eastern Pacific with potential to impact Hawaii.