Tropical Storm Niala: Close Call
Tropical Storm (TS) Niala has been an exception. Over the weekend, the system was expected to go over the Hawaiian islands, but has since changed direction. There are still many concerns because the additional threats associated with tropical systems are still able to affect the islands due to proximity.
Hurricane season in the Central Pacific runs from June 1st through November 30th. Activity is usually rare and when present, very weak. In fact, the Weather Forecast Office only activates the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) when there is a tropical system in the central Pacific.
For visualization purposes, the warning/cone images produced by the CPHC at each advisory (15 total) have been animated below.
Expectations for the storm to cause damage to Hawaii were highest at the end of last week, when the entire state was under tropical storm watch, and the Big Island was under a flash flood watch. These watches are declared when conditions are expected within 48 hours. It was also predicted that Niala had a very high probability of progressing into a Tropical Cyclone (70-100%). The images above display the tropical storm watch with the green outline around the island.
As predictions changed, and the “turn” was expected to occur before hitting the islands, the Area Forecast Discussion on Friday night said: “Tropical storm Niala is forecast to pass south of Big Island this weekend, and bring heavy rain to Big Island and surf to east facing shores.”
The NWS Marine Forecast for 28 Sept has said: “Tropical depression Niala is located just SW of the offshore waters...and will continue to move W and weaken.”
Now that the islands are safe from tropical storm or possible cyclone, they are still experiencing gratuitous amounts of rainfall, almost 5” in the last 3 days. Some of the additional threats from tropical systems like Niala include: floods, tornadoes, storm surge, storm tide, high winds, rip currents, and high rainfall. Currently the only advisory in effect is a high surf advisory, but they will be suffering through more rain for most of the week.
For any weather forecasting needs or concerns please contact any of our meteorologists and we will be glad to help!
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Images from: Central Pacific Hurricane Center Archive