Even though Hurricane Lane was lowered to a Category 3 from a Category 4 hurricane on August 23, the Pacific hurricane still threatens Hawaii with torrential downpours and flash floods. So far, parts of Hawaii’s islands have experienced more over a foot of rain on August 23 alone.
As the hurricane draws closer to Hawaii, peak winds have been recorded at 125 mph. Though it was downgraded to a Category 3, this still makes it an incredibly powerful hurricane.
The flooding and rain have only gotten worse as the hurricane draws closer. Parts of the islands are already experiencing weather conditions that rival a tropical storm. On August 22, the president officially issued a declaration of disaster in the area, calling on the FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to provide disaster relief.
“Even though the eye is south of the Big Island, we are seeing excessive rainfall already affecting the islands,” claims meteorologist Gavin Shigesato in Honolulu.
So far, the island of Hawaii has seen an excess of 31 inches of rain.
This is a problem for Hawaiian residents who are in the midst of a flash flood warning. Though the storm was expected to pass by late Saturday evening, the damage from the flood could take a long time to recover from. One gallon of rainwater alone can weigh more than eight pounds.
But why are there so many hurricanes in the Pacific this year?
The Atlantic ocean is known to have an excess of hurricanes at this time of year, but the Pacific has been ripe with tropical storms and dangerous weather conditions.
Hurricane Hector was another Category 4 storm that threatened the Pacific. Luckily, it bypassed Hawaii without incurring damage, but Hurricane Lane is officially the 12th hurricane to be named in the Pacific this year.
Scientists claim the increase in Pacific storms is due to warming waters and a decrease in the amount of wind shear over the Pacific.
“When the Pacific is warmer than normal, it tends to alter winds in such a way that you increase vertical wind shear over the Atlantic. So you get more shear in the Atlantic, which tears apart the hurricanes and you get less shear in the Pacific,” notes research scientist, Phil Klotzbach.
If you’re one of the 3.2 million skydivers who jump out of airplanes each year, you might want to avoid this in the Pacific. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, estimates that there is an 80% chance that the Pacific will experience an above-normal hurricane season.
Some Hawaiian residents are taking precautions on their island habitat, including boarding up their homes. The hurricane creates exceedingly dangerous conditions for island residents since they are away from the mainland with no means to escape the weather. Many haven’t seen a storm this bad since Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
Currently, the Navy has begun to move ships and submarines away from the Hawaiian islands to help deal with the after-effects of the storm.