Meteorologists are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Hector in the eastern Pacific Ocean; it is forecast to become a hurricane over time as it gets closer and closer to Hawaii. With Hawaii dealing with the ongoing Kilauea Volcano disaster, people are concerned about the possibility of a tropical cyclone interacting with an active lava flow. Portions of northern Kauai are also recovering from destructive, record-breaking rains and catastrophic flooding that happened earlier this year; additional heavy rain from a tropical cyclone could be an issue for ongoing recovery efforts there.
According to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, “The National Hurricane Center is currently issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Hector in the Eastern Pacific. The latest forecast has Hector moving into the Central Pacific Hurricane Centers area of responsibility on Sunday. It is still to early to predict what impacts Hector may have on our local weather as track and intensity errors are rather large in long range forecasts.”
In the tropics, meteorologists use a variety of regional and global forecast models to assist with understanding the path a tropical cyclone, such as a tropical storm or hurricane, may take. Among the major global forecast models are the American GFS and the European ECMWF. While both model outputs show general trends in the atmosphere pretty well, they do struggle with tropical cyclone paths, especially in the extended range. The global forecast models also struggle with nuances in Hawaii, such as the Big Island’s terrain or the interaction the eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone has with local weather. Currently, the European forecast model suggests the storm system will pass well south of Hawaii’s Big Island in about 7 days while the American GFS forecast model suggests the possibility of closer impact at about the same time. Earlier runs of the American GFS were more bullish with their approach, with landfalls on the Big Island and other islands suggested. While it is too soon to put too much stock into any forecast path from a forecast model, it is important that people in Hawaii be ready for any weather since hurricane season is here.
Like the Atlantic Hurricane Basin, the Central Pacific Hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through the end of November. Anyone at risk of hurricanes, including the entire Hawaiian chain, should have a Hurricane Action Plan prepared.