NOAA 2004-R251
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Delores Clark
5/17/04

NOAA News Releases 2004
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NOAA EXPECTS NEAR AVERAGE CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE SEASON
Hawaii Observes Hurricane Preparedness Week: “Be Aware, Be Prepared”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service hurricane experts forecast four to five tropical cyclones to occur within the central Pacific during the 2004 hurricane season. Typically, four to five tropical cyclones – one hurricane, two tropical storms, and one to two tropical depressions – occur each year in the central Pacific. The hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Today marks the kick-off of national hurricane preparedness week. This is the time when we urge Americans living in hurricane regions to prepare for the upcoming season,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The forecast we’re announcing today is the culmination of thousands of hours of work by NOAA and its partners. What we are talking about has a potential impact on lives and safety.”

“Many factors must be considered when making the seasonal hurricane outlook, including the status of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Pacific,” said Jim Weyman, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC). “Data from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center indicates that ENSO-neutral conditions can be expected through July. By way of contrast, in an El Niño season, there is an increased risk for tropical cyclone development in the Pacific Basin.”

The CPHC, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service, issues warnings, watches, advisories, discussions and statements, for all tropical cyclones in the central Pacific from 140° W to 180° W or the International Dateline. The Center is activated when a tropical cyclone forms in the central Pacific or moves into it from either the east or west. Although the greatest likelihood for hurricanes is during the hurricane season, CPHC continually monitors conditions to detect tropical cyclones throughout the year.

“NOAA investments in high speed computers, improved weather modeling and extensive Earth observation systems enable our scientists and forecasters to gather and synthesize information and begin the process of preparing the public to take action,” said Lautenbacher.

This year, CPHC meteorologists are using a new technologically advanced tool to improve the accuracy of wind, rainfall and surf forecasts during tropical cyclones. Called Interactive Forecast Preparation System/Graphical Editor (IFPS/GFE), this state-of-the-art system has the capability to produce forecasts at a much higher resolution than in previous years, with user-friendly graphical and text products for public, aviation and marine communities.

“We tested IFPS/GFE during the recent hurricane exercise, Makani Pahili,” said CPHC warning coordination meteorologist Nezette Rydell. “Forecasters gained valuable experience and proved they were able to accurately depict graphically an approaching hurricane.”

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a proclamation making Hawaii a participant in the National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 16-22), a collaboration between NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and storm-vulnerable states to increase preparedness and safety among residents.

Knowing what to expect during hurricanes helps people make informed decisions about how to protect themselves and their families. To emphasize this point, the theme for Hawaii’s hurricane awareness week is “Be Aware, Be Prepared.” Throughout the year, but especially during hurricane season, everyone should maintain an awareness of weather conditions and forecasts. To prepare for an approaching storm, people should develop a family emergency plan; learn evacuation routes and shelter locations; assemble a disaster supply kit with a flashlight, batteries, water, non-perishable food, and adequate medicine supply; cover doors and windows with plywood or hurricane shutters; and move loose objects and furniture inside.

When the hurricane center issues watches and warnings, people should closely monitor radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins of the storm’s progress and instructions from civil defense authorities. “A hurricane or tropical storm watch means the potential of hurricane or tropical storm conditions exists for designated islands within 36 hours. A hurricane or tropical storm warning means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are expected to occur within 24 hours,” said Weymen.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NWS operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand weather and climate-related events and to manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

CPHC: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/

Hurricane Preparedness: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/pages/hurrsafety.php

Interactive Forecast Preparation System/Graphical Edito ( IFPS/GFE)r: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/pages/gfe_graphics.php