Model says Hawaii will get 2-3 times the number of hurricanes – in contrast to other models saying the opposite

Hurricane Flossie is approaching the Big Island of Hawaii in August 2007. Image: NOAA

From the University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST, coin flip climatology?

More hurricanes for Hawaii?

News of a hurricane threat sends our hearts racing, glues us to the Internet for updates, and makes us rush to the store to stock up on staples. Hawaii, fortunately, has been largely free from these violent storms in the recent past, only two having made landfall in more than 30 years.

Now a study headed by a team of scientists at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, shows that Hawaii could see a two-to-three-fold increase in tropical cyclones by the last quarter of this century. The study, which appears in the May 5, 2013, online issue of Nature Climate Change, though, leaves open the question, how worried Island residents should get.

“Computer models run with global warming scenarios generally project a decrease in tropical cyclones worldwide. This, though, may not be what will happen with local communities,” says lead author Hiroyuki Murakami.

To determine whether tropical cyclones will become more frequent in Hawaii with climate change, Murakami and climate expert Bin Wang at the Meteorology Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, joined forces with Akio Kitoh at the Meteorological Research Institute and the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The scientists compared in a state-of-the-art, high-resolution global climate model the recent history of tropical cyclones in the North Pacific with a future (2075–2099) scenario, under which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, resulting in temperatures about 2°C higher than today.

“In our study, we looked at all tropical cyclones, which range in intensity from tropical storms to full-blown category 5 hurricanes. From 1979 to 2003, both observational records and our model document that only every four years on average did a tropical cyclone come near Hawaii. Our projections for the end of this century show a two-to-three-fold increase for this region,” explains Murakami.

The main factors responsible for the increase are changes in the large-scale moisture conditions, the flow patterns in the wind, and in surface temperature patterns stemming from global warming.

This image shows the projected change in number of tropical cyclones per year by the last quarter of this century. The green stippling indicates statistical significance at the 99 percent confidence level. Credit: Hiroyuki Murakami, Nature Climate Change

Most hurricanes that might threaten Hawaii now are born in the eastern Pacific, south of the Baja California Peninsula. From June through November the ingredients there are just right for tropical cyclone formation, with warm ocean temperatures, lots of moisture, and weak vertical wind shear. But during the storms’ long journey across the 3000 miles to Hawaii, they usually fizzle out due to dry conditions over the subtropical central Pacific and the wind shear from the westerly subtropical jet.

Surprisingly, even though fewer tropical cyclones will form in the eastern Pacific in Murakami’s future scenario, we can expect more of them to make their way to Hawaii.

The upper-level westerly subtropical jet will move poleward so that the mean steering flow becomes easterly. Thus, storms from Baja California are much more likely to make it to Hawaii. Furthermore, since the climate models also project that the equatorial central Pacific will heat up, conditions may become more favorable for hurricane formation in the open ocean to the south or southeast of Hawaii.

“Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments with different model versions and under varying conditions. The yearly number we project, however, still remains very low,” reassures study co-author Wang.

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The paper:

Hiroyuki Murakami, Bin Wang, Tim Li, and Akio Kitoh: Projected increase in tropical cyclones near Hawaii. Nature Climate Change, May 5, 2013, on line publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCLIMATE1890

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41 thoughts on “Model says Hawaii will get 2-3 times the number of hurricanes – in contrast to other models saying the opposite

  1. I think I can answer the question posed above without using a model, or considering CO2 in any way.

    Dear Residents of a beautiful tropical paradise island situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean:

    Prepare for the worst. Always. And hope for the best.

    That is all.

  2. The study, which appears in the May 5, 2013, online issue of Nature Climate Change, though, leaves open the question, how worried Island residents should get.
    In 62+ years, not very worried, most will not be living. Another future fantasy that can’t be observed.

  3. “Hawaii could see a two-to-three-fold increase in tropical cyclones by the last quarter of this century.”
    It is probably best that I hold my comments until after 2060 or so. All this will probably have blown over by then.

  4. “Thus, storms from Baja California are much more likely to make it to Hawaii. ”

    I recall one of those Baja storms two or three years ago that sputtered along as a TS/TD until it passed the Hawaiian archipeligo, but it held together. It finally passed 180 and eventually developed into a typhoon. Don’t see that very often.

  5. It’s always a case of having to wait 20 or 30 years, or 50 or 100. Yet if we look back on predictions of only a decade or so ago and point out they were wrong, we’re told “that’s old news, it doesn’t count that we got it wrong then, our models are better now.”

    There’s no way out with these people. Same way as CAGW is always responsible whether it’s warmer, colder, drier, wetter, windier or snowier. Whatever is proven wrong, we’ll still be told there is catastrophe ahead.

    Will someone pleeeeease pull the plug on these people? Enough is enough already! How far down the tubes does civilization have to go before people wake up to the fact the solution is the problem and the greens are behind it. These crazies are a danger to us all. They should be outlawed and the active members in jail.

  6. So if they’ve only had 2 storms in 30 years, and assuming storms were more frequent in the past, this is a brilliant hedge for the warmists because since the trend is nearly zero there can be no sudden dip to “algore effect” them, if it stays the same, nobody cares because its a “maybe”, but if it goes up (the only direction it can go) they get to gloat about how awesome their models are.

  7. The precautionary principle commands we ignore both and look outside from time to time to see what is going on out there.

  8. It is sort of difficult to know what to make of this.

    “Computer models run with global warming scenarios generally project a decrease in tropical cyclones worldwide. This, though, may not be what will happen with local communities,” says lead author Hiroyuki Murakami.

    Best I got here was that the “models” predict a decrease in tropical cyclones worldwide. So if there are less cyclones, the ones that remain must either be amplified and/or better focused on the Hawaiian chain.

    From this we might well deduce:

    “Surprisingly, even though fewer tropical cyclones will form in the eastern Pacific in Murakami’s future scenario, we can expect more of them to make their way to Hawaii.” Which, since it was not mentioned, might mean that they are not stronger, or more numerous, leaves better-focused on the Hawaiian chain the only viable option.

    “The upper-level westerly subtropical jet will move poleward so that the mean steering flow becomes easterly.” Had to look that up.

    One reference I found states: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130505145937.htm

    “The upper-level westerly subtropical jet will move poleward so that the mean steering flow becomes easterly. Thus, storms from Baja California are much more likely to make it to Hawaii.”

    It’s already been doing that for donkey’ years, but it could continue and strengthen because “The upper-level westerly subtropical jet will move poleward”. About the best I can make of this is that since the “westerly” moved northward, the “easterly”, which is moving east to west from south of Baja, will slope north sooner than normal, and smack the Hawaiian chain more frequently as a result.

    Essentially, this “finding” can be distilled down to a CO2 focused lens, where we can cobble together an industry-wide, anthropogenic-wide, world-wide carbon-fiber rheostat to “steer” tropical convergence zone anomalies at or away from the Hawaiian Archipelago.

    Which rather handily devolves to the most pertinent of conundrums: (1) should one buy another round, or (2) simulate yet another plausibly-deniable inhalation?

  9. Poisson tells me that over the next 500 years there will be a decade in which two typhoons hit Hawaii. Now, send me some grant money and I will make some more predictions.

  10. When I saw the headline I thought it was about some treader of fashion catwalks giving the usual air-head opinion of climate change horror.
    Uhm, I was wrong wasn’t I?

  11. Who funds IPRC ?

    AH SO !

    Sing the next lines to a lively Gilbert-And-Sullivan Tune:

    When you know [Ah So !]

    You have to Go [AHHHH SOOOO !]

    When you know you have to go you say Ah So ! [AHH SoooOOOHHHhhh !]

    When you know [Ah So !]

    You have to Go [ Ahhh ssssoooooHHHHH !]

    When you know you have to Go you say Ah So ! [AAAaaaahhhhh SSSSSOoooohhhhh 1]

    ;) Ah So !

  12. I was going to read the paper to separate out what the data says as opposed to what the models say, but it’s hidden behind a paywall, so its not worth the trouble.

  13. My computer model, just executed on a programmable pocket calculator from 1986 shows a decrease in hurricane strikes for Hawai’i by 75 to 80% by 2100. Please make out a cash check, thank you.

  14. If more heat means more cyclones, why haven’t we seen an increase? After all, the planet is its hottest in thousands of years.

  15. So by century’s end, more of a decreasing number of hurricanes are projected to visit the islands. Sounds to me like a wash then, in a manner of speaking.

  16. And people still believe this stuff without questioning it??? Talk about devolution.

  17. The upper-level westerly subtropical jet will move poleward so that the mean steering flow becomes easterly.

    The upper-level westerly subtropical jets move poleward when the sun is active and equatorward when the sun is less active. Mainly as result of the changes of UV-ozone-temperature influences in the lower stratosphere, which makes that the temperature differences between equator and poles in that layer increase or decrease over a solar cycle.

    The current solar cycle is a lot less active than the previous cycles, with as result that the jet streams are a lot more equatorward than normal near solar maximum. That makes that rain patterns are a lot more southward (for the NH) and that countries like Spain and Italy (even Saudi Arabia) receive the full train of clouds and rain.

    Models imply that CO2 has a similar effect, by increasing the equator-pole temperature difference. But none of the observations show such an effect within the solar cycles in the lower stratosphere. Thus there is no observation based reason to expect that more hurricanes will hit Hawaii…

  18. “Computer models run with global warming scenarios generally project a decrease in tropical cyclones worldwide. ”

    Really? Strange that if you read the msm or listen to O’bama talk you’d get the opposite impression.

  19. “Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments with different model versions and under varying conditions”.

    Running simulations are not experiments.

  20. If it’s based on models, then you can safely assume just the opposite (i.e. his models are crystal ball crap dressed up as science). How many more times will we fall for that trick?

  21. “‘Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments with different model versions and under varying conditions. The yearly number we project, however, still remains very low,’ reassures study co-author Wang.”
    This is your cue to throw the swindlers out the door.
    How many financial investors have gotten burned listening to the same kind of sales pitch? This is a study written by quacks. Don’t buy!
    It’s amazing that Nature Climate Change publishes such garbage.

  22. Another fairy tale. All these assumptions, scenarios, SSTs in this highly complex system can only lead to another failed prediction projection. Just ask the IPCC about the divergence of their temperature projections with current observations.

    The great thing about this paper is that the authors will be 6 foot under, escaping from tar and feather.

  23. Mayon volcano (Philippines) erupts again. Although its eruptios are frequent, the 1814 eruption coinciding with the Dalton minimum ( together with Tambora) is often credited for a major global cooling.

  24. “Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments with different model versions and under varying conditions.”

    And my machine that picks winning lottery numbers – a pencil on a bit of string – is fairly robust because it gave me the same number three times. I ran it multiple times with different lengths of string so it must be right..

  25. “Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments with different model versions and under varying conditions.”

    So this is the requirement for a climate science finding to be “fairly robust”? Run a climate model with different versions of your code and vary the boundary/initial conditions??? REALLY?! [sigh]

  26. Ah, models… Don’t you just love em…

    I have a model which predicts that unless we cease all fossil fuel use by next Saturday morning, the Earth will be eaten by a giant intergalactic space goat.

    Well, actually I don’t, but I could have, for twenty minutes’ coding.

    Some people have too much time on their hands.

  27. Looking at the diagram showing the ensemble model changes between present conditions and the +2C world, why isn’t the article headline “Fewer hurricanes for Mexico”? That would seem to be a far more important consequence of a “warmer world.” But, of course, it isn’t negative so it isn’t mentioned.

  28. The sad thing is that since this is in “Nature” Climate Change, it is automatically a “top-notch” paper. I really picked the wrong field of science. Looking for new antibiotics it is really hard to get funding but apparently if you predict that there might be a few more hurricanes at one spot on earth in 50-100 years, this deserves funding.

  29. “Our findings are fairly robust..”? I didn’t know smoke could be classified as robust.

  30. I lived through the last 2 hurricanes that made landfall in Hawaii. Been lots of misses.
    As the hurricanes form and move about more than 1,000 miles away, the media sure loves to generate storm paranoia, and predictably they are always totally out of step with the storm strength. (They do the same thing with Tsunamis, but that’s another story)
    Every single time the ranting on TV has the storm at a much higher rating than it really is.
    It’s not like we can hop in a car and drive north…
    So glad there is the internet!

    Just before I ditched my TV … I did see satellite tracking of one hurricane moving towards the Big Island of Hawaii.from the East.. I have heard that the 13,000′ high volcanoes turn hurricanes, my thought was yea sure,heh…. As it turned out the satellite view was amazing… as the outer clouds of the storm moved on shore, they were indented by the volcanoes, like a car tire hitting a pot hole… The next view the storm bumped 50 miles north, and missed the state…….

  31. “Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments …” on a PS3, Xbox, and a Wii.

  32. “Our finding that more tropical cyclones will approach Hawaii as Earth continues to warm is fairly robust because we ran our experiments with different model versions and under varying conditions.”

    This is good news. It means drug companies no longer need to carry out drug trials. They can do this in the virtual world on virtual humans and then put their products on the market for real human ingestion. :-(

  33. Joe D Aleo over on Weatherbell had an interesting post a few months ago about how vulnerable Hawaii is to hurricanes and how frequently they form and pass by. I got the impression the Islanders are mostly just lucky and its only a matter of time until they get slammed. A little bit like Katrina and New Orleans. Up until Katrina New Orleans had never taken a major hurricane directly. BTW D Aleo’s post didn’t mention changing climate conditions and certainly didn’t imply Global Warming had anything to do with Hawaii’s vulnerability. His post provided evidence its always been like that for Hawaii. They are just lucky, so far – a small target in a big ocean.

  34. If there are less typhoons overall and more hit Hawaii, then less will be hitting Japan. We have only one global weather pattern. If we could indeed influence and direct the course of storms (which I don’t believe for one second) should we do so to benefit Hawaii or Japan? If I could choose whether a typhoon would make landfall in Hawaii or Japan I’d probably send it to Hawaii.

    * Hawaii has a much lower population. Less people would die, and there would be less costly damage to infrastructure.
    * There is considerably less destruction from storm surge on an island – you don’t get coastal amplification of tides.
    * The poor Japanese deserve a break. Mother earth has been a bit nasty to them of late. It is Hawaii’s turn.

    So imagine you had some magic switch that could direct the next typhoon to either Hawaii or Japan. Where would you choose to send it and why? If we truly did have the power to manage the climate then there are massive issues as to who should most benefit from this management that have not even been considered yet.

  35. I read climatology for good belly laughs. This nonsense of modeling an almost infinitely complex chaotic system has to put a smile on your face (if you actually have a brain)….. ONLY wack-jobs
    do this stupid stuff and pretend that it is science…. BUT it is actually humor in disguise. All the warmists’ climate modeling should be treated with the derision that it deserves.

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