|Palm trees being blown by a tropical rain storm.|
Hurricanes hit Hawaii less frequently because of where the islands are located in the Pacific Ocean. Due to a high-pressure feature that looms in the atmosphere northeast of the state, storms as large as hurricanes are usually deflected or weakened by the time they reach the region.Cooler waters also play a role in weakening tropical systems that track through the area.”Sea-surface temperature tends to run too cool to the east of the islands,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. „So, any hurricanes approaching from the east tend to weaken and fall apart before reaching the islands.””Hurricanes approaching from the south are more likely to hit the islands, but this does not happen very often due to the strong trade wind flow from the east. This tends to keep hurricanes tracking south of the islands on a westerly course taking them too far west to impact the main islands.”However, that doesn’t mean the state has never seen destructive hurricanes before. Here are a few of the most notable exceptions.Hurricane Lane, 2018 Lane never made landfall in Hawaii, but its presence was certainly felt in August of 2018 when it unleashed record-breaking rainfall across parts of the island chain. According to NOAA, the slow-moving storm dumped 58 inches of total rainfall on the island of Hawaii, as recorded at the Kahuna Falls Cooperative Observer Program station, breaking a record for the Aloha State that had stood for 68 years (more on that below).Lane, which formed in mid-August, peaked at Category 5 strength, but by the time it neared the Hawaiian Islands, it had weakened substantially. Even as a weakened tropical depression, Lane continued to drench Hawaii with heavy rains, which caused flooding and mudslides on Kauai and Oahu. Flooding and other impacts from Lane caused in excess of $250 million in economic losses, according to the insurance giant AON’s Global Catastrophe Recap for 2018. One direct fatality was blamed on Lane, according to NOAA’s report on the storm. Hurricane Iniki, 1992Considered the most catastrophic hurricane in Hawaii’s history, Iniki originated in 1992, which was also an El Niño year. The storm slammed into Hawaii in September as a Category 4 hurricane and was blamed for six fatalities. „Hurricane Iniki caused nearly $3 billion in damage in Hawaii back in September 1992, which would be about $5.5 billion in today’s dollars,” AccuWeather CEO and Founder Dr. Joel N. Myers said.Iniki is considered to be the most powerful hurricane ever to hit Hawaii. Winds were recorded at 145 mph and destroyed 1,421 houses. The hurricane struck while Steven Spielberg and the cast of Jurassic Park were on the island of Kauai filming. Footage of the storm and its destruction was included in the production.
Hurricane Iwa, 1982
Prior to Iniki, Iwa was the most damaging hurricane to hit Hawaii. Iwa was the very last hurricane of the 1982 season, forming in November and causing $312 million in damage.
Officials blamed one death on high seas caused by the storm while 2,345 buildings and 1,927 houses were destroyed. Iwa mainly struck the islands of Kauai, Niihau and Oahu, all three of which were declared disaster areas by President Ronald Reagan. The entire island of Kauai was left without power, and 44 of the 45 boats at Port Allen were sunk.
Hurricane Dot, 1959
Arriving in August 1959, Dot made landfall on Kauai with winds as strong as 103 mph. Kauai endured widespread flooding due to the torrential rain and rough surf along the coasts.
At its peak, Dot was a Category 4 storm but weakened to a Category 1 by landfall. There were two indirect deaths in Lanai, and the damage totaled $6 million, which would be about $53 million in 2020 dollars. Dot was believed to have originated in the waters by Baja California but was never officially recognized and named until it was near peak intensity.
Hurricane Nina, 1957
A Category 1 hurricane that formed in November 1957, Nina didn’t directly strike the state but came close enough to bring 92-mph winds to Kauai. Nina caused $100,000 in damages and destroyed 12 homes. Four people were killed throughout the islands, and it also produced the highest wind gusts ever recorded in Honolulu. Like Iwa, Nina was the final hurricane of the 1957 season.
Hurricane Hiki, 1950
Considered the first official hurricane to come near the Hawaiian Islands region since record-keeping began, Hiki formed in August 1950 and packed wind gusts of 85 mph, but Hiki’s signature impact was not powerful winds.
Until Harvey in 2017, Hiki was the wettest tropical cyclone in the history of the United States, dropping more than 50 inches of rain. There was one fatality associated with the storm, as a farmer in Kohala died after coming in contact with a live wire.
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which formed Wednesday morning, is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
It is one of two tropical disturbances the National Hurricane Center is currently monitoring, and the seventh named storm of an already busy 2020 hurricane season.
By 5 p.m. EDT, Gonzalo was located in the central tropical Atlantic and approaching the Lesser Antilles. The storm was about 1,110 miles east of the Southern Windward Islands, with winds at 50 mph and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward only up to 25 miles from the center, the NHC said. Gusts are expected to increase over the next two days.
Gonzalo is expected to continue to move at 10 to 15 mph, and a “general westward motion at a faster forward speed is expected in the next few days,” according to the hurricane center.
“The current five-day forecast has Gonzalo in the central Caribbean Sea, and we really can’t speculate beyond that where it might head,” Robert Molleda, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami, said in an email Wednesday afternoon. “Any storm in the Caribbean Sea bears watching, and this one is no different. It’s too early to know if South Florida will be impacted, and for now there is no threat. Just something to watch, which is something we should be doing anyway as we approach the peak of the season.”
Levi Cowan, a meteorologist with the hurricane research division of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, tweeted Wednesday morning that the storm’s strengthening trend increases the odds of a significant storm impacting the Lesser Antilles by Saturday.
Other named storms this year have included Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard and Fay. Tropical Storm Arthur formed in mid-May, making this the sixth straight year that a named storm formed before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.
Virtually all estimates for this hurricane season predict an above-average number of storms, due to unusually warm ocean temperatures and global climate factors that are likely to reduce the high-altitude winds that can prevent the formation of hurricanes.
In addition to Gonzalo, a cluster of storms moving west-northwest at 10 mph over the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday has a 70% chance of developing in the next two days, the hurricane center said in its latest update. As of 2 p.m., the hurricane center said watches or warnings could soon be issued for the Texas and Louisiana coasts.
The wave is expected to reach the northwestern Gulf on Thursday.
It is responsible for disorganized showers and thunderstorms over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, central and southern Florida, and western Cuba.
“For South Florida, this means that we will basically have a continuation of the weather pattern of the past few days, with occasional showers and thunderstorms bringing periods of heavy rainfall and gusty wind,” Molleda said Tuesday.
“We do not expect tropical storm conditions across South Florida, nor do we expect all day rainfall, just a continuation of the weather we’ve been experiencing,” he continued. “There may be a temporary decrease in showers and thunderstorms Thursday night and Friday, but all in all no major changes in our weather pattern through the end of the week and probably into the weekend. Rain chances will be at least 50% each day.”
While this system poses no immediate threat to South Florida, Molleda said these storms serve as a reminder to be prepared during hurricane season.
“Now that we’re heading into the peak months of the season, (it’s) is a good reminder to make sure we’re ready,” he said. “We all should check our hurricane plans and make any adjustments and purchases before a threat, not wait until a storm gets very close to us.”
When hurricane season began June 1, two named storms, Arthur and Bertha, had already come and gone. The next day, Cristobal formed. Dolly formed on June 23 in the north Atlantic before weakening to a tropical depression and then dissipating the next day. There have been three tropical storms so far this month: Gonzalo, Edouard and Fay.
On July 8, Colorado State University issued a slightly more pessimistic outlook for hurricane season than its earlier forecast, upping the number of named storms from 19 to 20. A named storm is a tropical storm or hurricane.
An average season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, with three becoming major hurricanes.
The report pointed to above-average ocean surface temperatures and the possibility of a La Niña, the cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean that creates favorable conditions for the formation of Atlantic hurricanes.
South Florida’s weather forecast calls for heavy thunderstorms all week, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures will range from a low of about 78 degrees to highs of about 90.
(Sun Sentinel staff writer David Fleshler contributed to this report.)
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One of the biggest celestial surprises of 2020 has been Comet NEOWISE, the brightest comet in the Northern Hemisphere since the 1990s, but time is running out to spot the comet before it fades away into the icy depths of the solar system.
Comet NEOWISE is gradually getting dimmer and dimmer every night as it moves farther and farther away from the sun, and by next week, it may no longer be bright enough to be seen without binoculars or a telescope.
„Right now, the comet is relatively easy to observe with binoculars or a small telescope, provided you have a clear view toward the horizon,” NASA said.
It is still visible to the unaided eye, but only under dark skies in areas far away from light pollution.
„If you’re looking at the sky without the help of observation tools, Comet NEOWISE will likely look like a fuzzy star with a bit of a tail, so using binoculars or a small telescope is recommended to get the best views of this object,” NASA said.
It can be found in the northwestern sky under the Big Dipper by around 10 p.m. local time with the tail pointing upward away from the horizon.
On Wednesday, July 22, Comet NEOWISE made its closest approach to the Earth at a distance of around 64 million miles, according to NASA. For comparison, the sun is about 93 million miles away.
As it moves farther and farther away from the Earth and the sun, it will become harder to spot in the night sky, and by the end of July, it will likely only be visible with the help of a telescope.
It will be another 6,800 years before Comet NEOWISE visits the inner solar system and once again glows in the night sky.
Besides a good eye on the sky, the only other thing that onlookers will need to see the comet is cloud-free conditions.
Unfortunately, many across the U.S. and eastern Canada face partly to mostly cloudy conditions on Wednesday evening, obscuring any views of Comet NEOWISE.
More favorable weather is expected across the West Coast, northern Plains and Canadian Prairies.
On Thursday evening, good viewing conditions are in the forecast for the West Coast, Great Lakes and southern Plains while the balance of the country faces disruptive clouds.
The best way to capture an image the comet is with the help of a camera or smartphone that can take long exposure photography. Cameras that take a photo with a 3- or 5-second exposure can collect enough light to make out the comet in the sky even when it cannot be seen with just the naked eye.
After Comet NEOWISE fades away on its journey back into the outer solar system, it’s unclear when the next bright comet will be visible in the night sky.
According to SPACE.com, the last comet that was this bright enough to be seen with the naked eye from the Northern Hemisphere was Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, although it was much brighter than NEOWISE.
So stargazers should take advantage of this rare opportunity to get one last look at Comet NEOWISE, since it may be some time before the next comet glows in the night sky.
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These Are the Best Photos of Comet Neowise (So Far!)