NOAA 2000-240
Contact: Delores Clark


Lead disaster management agencies in Hawaii joined Jim Weyman, director of
the National Weather Service Central Pacific Hurricane Center to declare
May 14-20, 2000, "Hurricane Awareness Week in Hawaii." Weyman read a
proclamation signed by Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano and said, "Since 1959, three
hurricanes have hit Hawaii, with Iniki in 1992 becoming Hawaii's worst natural disaster.
Hurricanes personally impact every ohana--our mothers and fathers, sons and
daughters, brothers and sisters, our aunties, uncles, and cousins, throughout Hawaii.
We all need to be aware and prepare for Hurricane Season."

Speaking at the press briefing along with Weyman were Major General Edward
Correa, Jr., director of Hawaii State Civil Defense; Chris Roberts, Federal Emergency
Management Agency Pacific Area Office
; and Glenn Lockwood, director of disaster services, Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Weyman said, "Hurricane Season runs from June 1 - November 30 when the Islands are most at risk. But statistics show that a storm can occur at any time of the year. If we have an average number of hurricanes or even below average this season, just one storm striking the Islands could be devastating. In addition to high winds, people need to be reminded that inland flooding and storm surge can also wreak havoc."

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center, co-located with the Honolulu Forecast Office on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, will be open to the public on May 19 to provide tours and safety information.

Following the press briefing, the National Weather Service provided information on this year's hurricane season, including hurricane facts and figures, the status and expected impacts of La Niña, and the outlook on drought and wildfire threats.

Although the National Weather Service cannot forecast the exact number of hurricanes and tropical storms expected in the Central Pacific, the 2000 season may see a near normal or slightly above normal number of storms, according to Weyman. This is based on the anticipated weakening of La Niña and statistical averages over the past 38 years. The long-term average is 4.5 storms. However, the number of storms occurring in a given season has ranged from zero to 11. The 1999 season saw two hurricanes, Eugene and Dora, and one tropical depression.

Improvements in forecast technology are helping meteorologists track the direction of storms more closely. Better data from weather satellites and more advanced computer models, coupled with data from hurricane surveillance planes, are providing more accurate forecasts. Thirty years ago, the 24-hour forecast error averaged 140 miles. It is 100 miles today, and the National Weather Service goal is to improve to 80 miles by 2005. Weyman noted, "One of the best ways to get accurate, updated warnings of hurricanes is NOAA Weather Radio. The newest models can be programmed to sound an alarm when dangerous weather approaches. Every home, school, and business should have a NOAA Weather Radio and be prepared to respond when the warnings are announced." Weather radios are available at most electronic stores.

The National Weather Service works closely with the media and civil defense agencies in Hawaii. Commercial radio and TV broadcasters are key players who help communicate NWS Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings to the public. Civil Defense personnel perform the vital functions of declaring evacuations for areas at greatest risk, and mobilizing and coordinating with other emergency services organizations that are so important for the safety of the people of Hawaii. Weyman said, "In terms of dealing with natural disasters, the partnership between federal, state, and local agencies in Hawaii is one of the most effective within the entire U.S."

"But ultimately, everyone must take personal responsibility," Weyman continued. "Everyone should have an action plan in the event that a hurricane strikes the islands. Every home should have a survival kit which should be checked before the start of the hurricane season, and everyone should take action when advised by civil defense." He concluded, "Individual preparedness will make the greatest positive difference in protecting the lives and property of the people of Hawaii."