Forecasters predict busy Central Pacific hurricane season

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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii and the Central Pacific could experience more storms than normal during this year's hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Wednesday there will be five to eight named tropical cyclones in the region from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Four to five storms each season is considered normal, Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said at a news conference.

El Nino conditions will boost water temperatures and contribute to storm activity, he said.

"This is one key factor predicting seasonal activity," Brenchley said. "There is plenty of warm water out there."

El Nino is expected to last through the end of Hawaii's hurricane season.

NOAA also predicts wind shear — which often breaks apart hurricanes — will be weaker than normal.

There were six named tropical storms in the region in 2018. All became hurricanes. Category 5 Hurricane Lane threatened Oahu in August before veering away from the island and weakening.

"I don't think I have to remind anyone about last hurricane season," Hawaii Gov. David Ige said. "Hurricane Lane brought record-setting rainfall causing more than $7 million of damage on Hawaii Island. We saw heavy rains and flooding on Maui and wind damage and power outages across the state."

Just two weeks later, Hurricane Olivia approached the state before weakening to a tropical storm and making landfall on Maui and Lanai.

"It's time to take action to safeguard our homes against the potential impact of high winds" Ige said. "Make sure that your family is prepared."

Many Hawaii residents do not have sufficient insurance to recover from a major hurricane, said Colby Stanton, regional director of readiness for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

She said most standard policies for homeowners, businesses and renters do not cover flood or hurricane damage. And most hurricane insurance only covers wind damage, not flooding, she said.

"Even just one inch of water in your home is enough to cause over $25,000 worth of damage," Stanton said. "Under 10% of the residents of Hawaii have purchased flood insurance."

She said people should consider buying flood insurance now because it can take as long as 30 days for policies to go into effect.

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