Hurricane Tracker

HI-EMA on Hurricane Season preparedness: “It only Takes One”

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Major Hurricane Linda in the Eastern Pacific Ocean was captured by NOAA’s satellite on Aug. 14, 2021. Linda weakened to a post-tropical low and brought heavy rain and gusty winds to portions of the main Hawaiian Islands. Linda was one of three tropical cyclones that moved into the Central Pacific Ocean last year. PC: NOAA

The forecast for the 2022 Central Pacific hurricane season calls for fewer tropical storms than average, but the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency reminds residents and visitors that “it only takes one storm” to impact lives, property, infrastructure, and the environment.

“Storms donʻt need to land a direct hit to the islands or reach hurricane strength to cause havoc; even a near-miss by a strong storm can put communities in jeopardy,” according to HI-EMA.

“Donʻt wait. Take small steps now to prepare yourself and your family,” said Luke Meyers Administrator of the HI-EMA.

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The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu has predicted 2-to-4 tropical storms for the season, which starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. It’s the third year in a row with a forecast for a below-average number of storms.

But a warming climate provides more energy to drive weather systems, allowing for bigger storms, more rain, and stronger winds. Even storms weaker than a hurricane, such as the “Kona low” in December 2021, can bring significant flooding, landslides, and damage from high winds.

“Past incidents teach us how important it is to get ready during blue skies, before a storm is bearing down on Hawai‘i,” Meyers said.

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of Hurricane Iwa and the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Iniki, two of the most severe storms to ever affect Hawaiʻi. 

  • Iniki made a direct hit on Kauaʻi Sept. 11, 1992, bringing winds up to 145 miles per hour and causing six deaths.
  • The center of Iwa brushed within 25 miles of Hawaiʻi on Nov. 23, 1982. Though it did not directly hit the islands, wind gusts of up to 100 mph caused damage on Niʻihau, Kauaʻi and Oʻahu. One fatality was caused by high seas and three other deaths were indirectly related to the storm’s aftermath.

More recently, Hawaiʻi felt the effects of Hurricane Lane in 2018, which brought torrential rain, flooding, landslides and strong winds. The state also had near misses with Hurricane Douglas (the closest to Oʻahu in modern history) in 2020 and Tropical Storm Linda in 2021.

While the HI-EMA prepares for the effects of a hurricane on critical systems, it is also vital that residents and visitors do what they can to increase their own ability to cope with a storm. When more families and communities are resilient, emergency responders can focus on the greatest needs.

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“The more resilient we become as a state, the quicker we will be able to bounce back and recover from a disaster,” Meyers said. 

HI-EMA reports that “a more resilient Hawaiʻi starts with six simple actions” that the agency says have proven to help residents be better prepared before, during and after a storm:

  1. Know your hazards – Know what hazards exist where you live, work, and play.
  2. Sign up for alerts – Sign up for local alerts for up-to-date emergency information. Sign-up information for all counties is listed on the HI-EMA website.
  3. Develop a plan – Make an individual or family emergency plan that includes where to go, how to communicate, and how to take care of each other (including pets) during an emergency. Include plans for vulnerable neighbors who mayneed assistance.
  4. Prepare an emergency kit – Set aside enough food, water, and supplies to survive without assistance for at least 14 days. Also prepare a go-bag with 72 hours of supplies in case an evacuation requires you to go to an emergency shelter. (Don’t forget necessary medications, masks and hand sanitizer.)
  5. Consider insurance – Consult an insurance agent about getting flood insurance and/or hurricane insurance. Damage from floods can cost a lot to fix and can displace people from their home for long periods of time. Flood insurance can provide peace of mind in the event of a disaster, but it may take 30 days or more to become active, so start early.
  6. Strengthen your home – Consider fortifying your home with hurricane clips or other strengthening measures to protect your property from the damaging effects of hurricane-force winds and other natural hazards.

“Every household that has prepared to help itself during a disaster helps the whole state by freeing up resources to help people in the greatest need,” Meyers said.

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