hurricanes over the Pacific 2014
NOAA‘s GOES-West satellite captured this image of a very active Eastern and Central Pacific, hosting three tropical cyclones (from left to right) Genevieve, Iselle and Julio. Image Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

June 1 is the start of hurricane season, which lasts through November. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center is forecasting a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season, based upon the expectation of El Niño continuing and possibly strengthening as
the hurricane season progresses.

Now is the time to take the basic steps of hurricane preparedness:

  • Pay attention to weather alerts
  • Develop a plan
  • Put together a disaster kit
  • Prepare your home (or dorm! see below)

As history and the 2015 preparedness hashtag remind us, #ItOnlyTakesOne.

A reminder from the past

black and white photo of building rubble
Remains of the Hawaiian Studies Center after Hurricane Iniki. It had been built just eleven months before the 160 mph winds of Iniki hit the Kauaʻi Community College campus. From Mālamalama (UH Press)

Called the “most drastic force hitting community colleges in Hawaiʻi,” hurricanes have been responsible for major damage at Kauaʻi Community College. Mālamalama: A History of the University of Hawaiʻi (UH Press) notes that in 1982, “Iwa filled the flat roof of the library with water, causing its collapse; damage to books and furnishings was devastating.” Ten years later, another hurricane walloped the island.

“Iniki was much fiercer. In its destructive path, three wooden buildings housing the campus child-care center, the Hawaiian studies program, and the apprenticeship program, were entirely destroyed, and the theatre, then under construction, was severely damaged. The campus served as a shelter for two to three thousand evacuees, many of them tourists. Classes were canceled, and faculty members helped prepare and distribute food.”

Amazingly, the college reopened within two weeks, running on generators until commercial electric power was restored a month after the storm.

Pay attention to weather alerts

Traditional and social media offer many options to stay informed about the weather.

Weather links from NOAA, UH and other sources are compiled on our Hawaiʻi Weather and Surf Reports page.

Sign up for UH Alert to be informed via text message about emergency situations affecting any of our 10 campuses.

The Pacific Disaster Center has a free app Disaster Alert app that gives updates about weather disasters globally. Custom alerts are available via subscriptions that run $10/year. Learn more.

Plan and prepare

“Dennis Hwang, a coastal hazard mitigation specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi’s Sea Grant program, said people should stock up on food, water, medication and gasoline when preparing for a major storm. He added that people should keep important documents, a radio and cash on hand when tropical storms approach. ‘Have a kit, have a plan and practice it,’ he said. ‘The whole idea here is to be weather ready.’” (via Huffington Post)

Ask yourself: Where is the nearest shelter? Where is our family/business meeting place? How will I let my parents know I am OK? Where do I find information? Where are our escape routes?