Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting Picky about Energy in Hurricane Season

Hurricanes are marvelous energy machines -- nature’s way of expelling excess amounts of it from the tropics. According to some calculations, an average hurricane produces the “equivalent to 200 times the worldwide electrical generating capacity….” We're all for renewable energy, but that’s bull-in-a-china-shop energy, not what we need.

The Eastern Pacific is now officially experiencing increased ocean temperatures – what they call an El Niño, which historically means we can expect more tropical storms in the Central Pacific. Our friend Jan TenBruggencate reminds us in his Raising Islands blog today that a hurricane could arrive in the islands within a week or 10 days.

So we’re chiming in, too, with this cautionary note for island residents to start taking precautions. Hawaii has been remarkably free of tropical storms in recent years, unlike the Gulf and Atlantic states, but our two most recent hurricane strikes – Iwa in 1982 and Iniki in 1992 – both were during El Niño conditions. We are forewarned.

Monday Update

Carlos has weakened and is expected to remain a tropical storm for the remainder of its life. We'll have a lively discussion on KIPO this afternoon (5 pm HST, 11 pm EDT) about Hawaiian Electric Company's evolving role in delivering cleaner energy to its customers.

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