Weather experts from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa shared their knowledge with the public as communities across the state awaited Hurricane Lane’s arrival.
Several faculty in the SOEST Department of Atmospheric Sciences have expertise in hurricanes, and tropical and island meteorology.
Assistant Professor Alison Nugent was interviewed by the New York Times, and was on-air with KHON2‘s weather anchor for nearly six hours on Friday. She updated viewers on the approaching hurricane/storm, answered questions from the public and interpreted hurricane graphics in layman’s terms.
“The most exciting part was when the storm fell apart in front of our eyes on live TV,” said Nugent. “We could see the upper level clouds being sheared toward the northeast and the lower level clouds beginning to move westward as Hurricane Lane took a turn to the left.”
Steven Businger, professor and chair of the department, was also highly sought after as a media commentator. He discussed whether Maunakea and Mauna Loa on Hawaiʻi Island “protect” the islands from storms.
The discussion centered around the influence of environmental winds on the track and wind shear on the intensity of the storm. In particular, as the storm weakened through the action of wind shear as it neared Oʻahu, its depth became shallower, and the low level flow from the northeast took over in steering the storm to the west.
Assistant Professor Jennifer Griswold and Professor Pao-Shin Chu were interviewed for a Civil Beat article. Griswold shared various tools, apps and webpages for the general public to follow the storm, as well as some explanations about how Lane was progressing.
Chu said the vertical structure of a mature hurricane and how upper level shear (winds at different altitudes moving in opposite directions) can disrupt the organized structure of a hurricane. “Even though we dodged a bullet from Lane, the hurricane season is not over until the end of November,” said Chu. “We still have to be vigilant about future storms.”