For the second summer in a row, a tropical cyclone is headed toward Hawaii, a relative rarity for the island chain. But in a warming world, the 50th state could face more tropical storms and hurricanes, some research suggests, with one new study finding that climate change upped the odds of last year’s spate of storms. Though Hawaii is a tropicalMore
Sunny beaches. Good surf breaks. Fresh tropical fruit. Hawaii is truly a lucky place.
If you’re looking for another sign of Hawaii’s luck, look no further than this year’s hurricane season in the Central Pacific. Despite a record number of storms, Hawaii has remained unscathed except for occasional high surf (and most surfers probably see that as a lucky byproduct).
For a little perspective on the Aloha State’s good fortune, the National Weather Service Honolulu Office shared a map showing infrared imagery of every hurricane and tropical storm in the Central Pacific basin this year. A little science, a little Jackson Pollock, the map shows a ring of storms around the islands, but none coming ashore.
There have been a record 15 named storms in the Central Pacific. That beat out the previous high of 11, set in 1992 and tied in 1994. While the season officially winds down on Nov. 30, there have been a few isolated storms that formed in December and January so there’s still an off-chance the basin could add to its total.
Other measures point to a similarly active season. This year has also had more days with multiple storms in the Central Pacific than all years since 1970 combined. The accumulated cyclone energy — a measure of intensity based on storms’ wind energy over their lifetime — combined in the Central and Eastern Pacific basins this year is double the average (and has contributed to northern hemisphere setting a record through Wednesday).
Last year was no slouch either and in fact, Hawaii’s hurricane luck almost ran out. Three storms came dangerously close to the island chain in 2014, including Iselle, which grazed the Big Island as a tropical storm. Recent research tied last year’s active hurricane season around Hawaii to climate change.
The strong El Niño has certainly helped increase the odds of hurricanes in the basin this year. Its warm waters have created an environment conducive to tropical storm formation and intensification. But the season also offers another case study of how the background rise of temperatures due to climate change are affecting hurricane activity in the region. Any increase in activity means Hawaii’s luck could run out sooner than later.