UH Scientists: Brace For More Hurricanes — Eventually

Hawaii hasn’t seen a lot of hurricanes in recent years — just eight between 1979 and 2010 — but University of Hawaii researchers say that’s likely to change.

Scientists at UH Manoa’s International Pacific Research Center published a study this week saying that Hawaii will see a two-to-three fold increase in tropical cyclones. But the increase won’t happen in most of our lifetimes. The study shows the uptick in hurricane activity won’t occur until the last quarter of this century — 2075 to 2099. 

Still, scientists say Hawaii needs to pay attention now — and prepare. 

Hiroyuki Murakami, lead author of the study said: “The impact is very important to the economic and ecological future of Hawaii… We can predict when the tropical cyclone will make landfall or approach the Hawaiian region… to prevent any kind of hazard, like floods, in advance.”

The study is based on projected increases in ocean and air temperatures that echo trends in global green house gas emissions.

The majority of hurricanes that might have an immediate impact on Hawaii typically form off the southern tip of California. Most lose steam and peter out somewhere along the 3,000-mile passage over the Pacific. Though fewer hurricanes are expected form during the next century, they will be more likely to reach Hawaii as they pick up steam traveling over increasingly warm Pacific waters. 

After Hurricane Iniki struck the islands in 1992, the state implemented the Hurricane Relief fund as a state-based emergency fund. However, payments into the fund were discontinued in 2001.

— Sherley Wetherhold

Photo via NASA: Goddard satellite captures three tropical cyclones spinning in the eastern Pacific on July 10, 2012.

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