Hawaii faces double hurricane threat

Two major cyclones are bearing down on the US island archipelego.

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    Since 1950 there has been an average of just seven storms per decade that have severely impacted the islands [AFP/NASA]
    Since 1950 there has been an average of just seven storms per decade that have severely impacted the islands [AFP/NASA]

    Hawaii, the isolated island archipelago in the central Pacific, lies close to the track of two major hurricanes in the eastern Pacific.

    The more immediate threat comes from Hurricane Ignacio. At 00GMT on Sunday, Ignacio was centred approximately 450km to the east-southeast of the big Island. It is currently a Category 4 system (on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale) with sustained winds of 210 to 220km/h.

    Its forecast track from the US National Hurricane Centre, takes it just to the north of the islands on Tuesday and Wednesday. Although a direct hit is not expected, Ignacio is expected to bring gusty winds, heavy rain, dangerous surf and rip currents to the islands, as early as Sunday.

    Although there are typically seven tropical systems in the central Pacific basin each year, the number which approach these tiny islands is very small.

    Since 1950 there has been an average of just seven storms per decade that have severely impacted the islands. Of those approaching from the east, since 1949, only one (unnamed storm) has hit Hawaii.

    In fact, most storms which approach Hawaii from the east tend to fall apart as they encounter the cooler waters and drier air that lie to the east of the islands.

    The worst hurricane to strike Hawaii in recent years was Iniki, which hit on 11th September 1992. Six lives were lost and the islands sustained $1.8b worth of damage.

    Currently, much further to the east lies Hurricane Jimena, another category 4 storm. Jimena is expected to head directly towards Hawaii for the next four to five days, but it should then curve northwards away from the islands.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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