Mild hurricane season comes to a close

  • Hurricane Season 2017

Hawaii’s 2017 hurricane season officially ended Thursday as one of the quietest yet.

Just two storms were recorded in the central Pacific basin from June 1, the start of hurricane season, through Thursday. They were Tropical Storm Fernanda and Tropical Depression Greg, both in July. Neither came close to Hawaii nor had an impact on the state.

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The basin, which includes Hawaii, normally records between four to five annually. Forecasters originally predicted between five to eight storms this year — more than average — because it appeared an El Nino weather pattern was developing. El Nino is correlated with a more active season.

El Nino never developed, and conditions instead reverted to neutral.

“When you have neutral, your numbers end up being much less than with El Nino,” said Kevin Kodama, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

“It was a slower-than-expected year, which is good,” Kodama added. “We want our prediction to be right, but if it’s going to err on one side, we’d rather have it err on the low side.”

By contrast, the Atlantic basin — which recorded at least 17 storms this year — had one of its busiest seasons ever. Ten of those storms were hurricanes. Six were major hurricanes, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which was among the most damaging on record.

Hawaii saw one of its busiest seasons in 2015 when 17 storms were recorded in the central Pacific. Last year, there were six tropical cyclones that either formed or passed through the basin.

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While the hurricane season is over, forecasters say current rainy conditions will probably stick around through the winter — a La Nina weather pattern is predicted to remain and continue to be a “weak to moderate event,” Kodama said.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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