Friday, July 10, 2009

Check disaster kits: hurricane in Central Pacific by Thursday

It's a good time to check your hurricane kit, as the first hurricane of the 2009 season threatens to move into Central Pacific waters.

The storm called 4E is still a tropical depression, but the National Weather Service is forecasting it will strengthen to tropical storm windspeeds over the weekend, and then to hurricane intensity early next week. It will be given a name when it reaches tropical storm strength.

(Image: Initial forecast for the expected hurricane that's now Tropical Depression 4E. Credit: NOAA.)

Based on today's estimates, it could pass the 140-degree-west longitude Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Here is the 8 a.m. Friday public advisory on the storm.

A lot of storm activity starts and ends in the Eastern Pacific—that area from the coast of Central America to 140. But when storms cross 140 and continue westward, they slip within a thousand miles of the Big Island and become a concern to Hawai'i.

The vast majority of storms in the Pacific never bother Hawai'i. But 4E is worth paying attention to for a couple of reasons.

It remains at a fairly low latitude, in warm water near the equator. Big cyclones tend to lose power when they move north into cold water.

Also, the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center says that contrary winds aloft, which could shear apart a rotating storm, are not strong enough to do so right now.

“The depression is at low latitudes...and is forecast to remain embedded within an environment of light shear and warm (sea surface temperatures)...so the cyclone should gradually intensify and become a hurricane...

“Most of the available guidance brings the depression to hurricane status beyond 3 days. However...given the current structure and favorable environment...this could happen earlier,” said the hurricane center's discussion on 4E today” (July 10, 2009).

At this point it's way early to be worrying about this storm. If it were to maintain strength and take a course that could impact the Islands, that's probably in the neighborhood of 10 days off.

But for folks who haven't heeded the National Weather Service's notice that hurricane season has begun, it's probably a good time to go to the phone book. Most telephone directories have in their front pages a disaster preparedness guide prepared by Hawai'i Civil Defense.

In there, find information on evacuation, if that's appropriate for your location, as well as a list of items every family should have available—the Family Disaster Kit.

The kit should be a standard year-round part of every home, since it is critical to families' ability to safely survive the critical two or three days after a disaster and before emergency services can get to most folks. That disaster doesn't need to be a hurricane—it can also be wildlfire, tsunami, flood, a public health emergency or terrorism activity.

More on this if this storm develops into something more threatening to Hawai'i.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

1 comment:

karen said...

Hurricane can also be a Tsunami or flood where life will be affected to the core pl see to it that people are shifted to safer places

___________________
Karen
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