For a time over the weekend, three powerful Category 4 hurricanes churned in the central and eastern Pacific basins at the same time, an event that is believed a meteorological first in the ocean region and another sign that the forces of El Nino are stirring up weather anomalies – and the jitters in Hawaii.
Hawaii on Monday appeared to have dodged a swipe from Hurricane Ignacio, which had substantially weakened to a Category 2 on a five-point scale as it moved hundreds of miles off-shore of the state. But that sense of relief was tempered by the knowledge that the islands are just halfway through the hurricane season and already have seen almost as many named storms as the Pacific region usually gets in an entire period.
Over the weekend, officials recorded three named hurricanes – Ignacio, Kilo and Jimena – and all were as strong as Category 4. Kilo and Jimena are not expected to directly hit the Hawaiian islands. National Weather Service meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said it was possible that Ignacio could stage a dramatic shift toward land, “but not likely.”
Even though the storms are forecast to miss Hawaii, officials have had to gear up emergency measures as a precaution. Stores have reported an increase in purchases of emergency supplies, declarations of warning have been issued by state leaders and emergency management officials and hundreds of volunteers have been put at the ready by groups such as the Red Cross.
So far, there have been 14 named storms in the region, and the hurricane season, which runs from mid-May to the end of November, is only about half over, he said. The forecast had been for 15 to 22 storms this year, he said.