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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Cyclones possible late in season with El Niño

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i residents should be ready for tropical cyclones that may come as late as December this year, national and local experts with the National Weather Service say.

Jim Laver, director of the Climate Prediction Center in Maryland, gave a briefing Monday on the effect of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which occurs about every four to five years and brings severe storms, heat waves, drought and floods.

Jim Weyman, meteorologist in charge of the Honolulu Forecast Office, said the forecast includes the potential for late-season tropical cyclones, cooler-than-normal temperatures from December through April, and less rainfall this year and into the next.

Weyman said that means folks in Hawai'i can expect this winter to have higher daytime temperatures and cooler evenings. He recalled that five years ago, night temperatures dipped to the 60s and even the 50s with the clear weather.

The potential also exists for bigger surf on the north and northwest shores. Weyman said the warmer water in the Pacific characteristic of El Niño had appeared.

This El Niño is forecast to be a "weak to moderate" event, significantly milder than the one in 1997-98 that brought flooding to California and the Gulf Coast.

Laver said the strong El Niño of five years ago made weather easier to predict accurately while the current conditions are more difficult to pinpoint.

Mike Hamnett, of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Hawai'i, noted that the drier weather that accompanied the 1997-98 El Niño had a big impact on Hawai'i farmers and ranchers, especially on Maui and the Big Island.

With more dry weather expected, Hamnett said, "it's not going to be good news" for those farmers and ranchers.