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2017 Hawaii hurricane season to be more active than normal, but not extreme


The 2017 Central Pacific hurricane season, which includes interests in Hawaii, is likely to be active but not nearly as busy as 2015.

The Central Pacific basin is the area bounded by 140 and 180 degrees west longitude and includes the islands and waters surrounding Hawaii.

"The combination of warm water and a typical amount of disruptive winds should lead to a slightly more active tropical season for the Central Pacific when compared to average," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

El Niño is forecast to develop but remain weak for the 2017 hurricane season. El Niño is characterized by above-normal ocean water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator.

Static Central Pacific Hurricane Factors


"There is a higher-than-average chance for the Hawaiian Islands to be affected by one to two tropical cyclones this season," Kottlowski said. "This should not be an extreme year for hurricanes in Hawaii."

A tropical cyclone is a tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane.

The greater risk to Hawaii is due to a slightly greater-than-average number of tropical cyclones anticipated.

It is fairly routine for a tropical cyclone to approach the Hawaiian Islands from the east. However, the Big Island, which lies farthest to the east, often interferes with the path and organization of these systems.

Static 2017 Central Pacific Hurricane Forecast


The forecast includes tropical cyclones that form in the Central Pacific basin and/or cyclones that may originate from the East Pacific, or east of 140 west.

"During an El Niño year, we tend to see a greater number of storms form near or just west of Hawaii than during a non-El Niño year," Kottlowski said.

Should El Niño become stronger than anticipated, then greater numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes are likely with perhaps a greater number of potential impacts on the Hawaiian Islands.

The Central Pacific hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 3. The most likely time for a tropical cyclone to occur in the Central Pacific basin is from July to October with August being the peak month.

"All tropical systems are dangerous, but the worst-case track for a tropical system to have major impact Hawaii is from the south," Kottlowski said. "Fortunately, tropical systems moving in this manner are rare."

"The potential for a high-impact storm on Hawaii that springs up from the south is low for 2017," Kottlowski said.

Only three hurricanes have brought major impacts to Hawaii since 1950.

Since 1949, there have been only six tropical storms that have made landfall.

Static AP Satellite Hurricanes Madeline and Lester 2016

Category 4 Hurricane Madeline, left, and Category 3 Hurricane Lester churn over the Pacific Ocean on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. (Satellite/NASA)


In 2016, westward-moving Tropical Storm Darby made landfall over the southern part of the Big Island with minor impact. Hurricane Pali, from Jan. 11-14, 2016, was the earliest hurricane to form on record in the basin. Including Pali, which formed prior to the official start of the season, there were seven tropical cyclones in 2016.

The 2015 Central Pacific hurricane season was one for the record books with 14 tropical storms, eight hurricanes and five major hurricanes that formed and/or moved into the basin.