The National Weather Service was reporting Friday that an area of low pressure about 3,000 miles east-southeast of Hilo had a 50 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by 2 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Karina had lost some steam, churning about 2,200 miles east of the Big Island. It had been downgraded from a hurricane, but was expected to continue as a cyclone through the weekend and into next week.
Interestingly, said John Bravender, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, how the two storms might interact is a big question mark at this point.
“We expect Karina to keep doing what it’s doing. Things aren’t expected to change very much. It’ll keep the same strength and keep moving westward. But what’s weird is that by the end of the (five-day) forecast, when Karina might reach this area of disturbance to the south … we don’t know what will happen. It’s worth keeping an eye on, especially given our recent history and experiences on the Big Island,” he said.
As of 2 p.m. Friday, Karina was moving westward at 12 mph toward the Big Island, displaying sustained wind speeds of about 50 mph, with higher gusts.
No warnings or watches were associated with Karina, but that could change if the storm moves within range of the Hawaiian Islands.
National Hurricane Center officials predicted in May that 14-20 named storms and seven to 11 hurricanes — including three to six major hurricanes — would form this year in the Eastern Pacific Basin. Overall, they gave the 2014 season a 50 percent change of being above normal, a 40 percent chance of being near-normal and a 10 percent chance of being below normal.
“We were expecting normal to above normal activity due to the building of El Nino, caused by a warming of the surface of the ocean near the equator,” explained Tom Evans, acting director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “That brings more activity in our area, and this season a lot of it has been pointed toward us.”
The Eastern Pacific averages 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes each year, according the hurricane center.
The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began May 15 and runs through Nov. 30.