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The 1991 Central Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season
The central Pacific hurricane season in 1991 ended with just three tropical systems in the area. All three systems had been hurricanes in the eastern Pacific with ENRIQUE weakening to the depression state before entering the central Pacific.
The season started out rather slowly with very little activity in June and early July. ENRIQUE was the first to reach the central Pacific.
ENRIQUE entered the CPHC forecast area as a weakening tropical depression at approximately 210000Z with sustained winds estimated at 25 knots. The CPHC issued only three advisories on the depression. ENRIQUE had been moving toward the west along latitude 16N. The remnant circulation passed 140W and moved northwest, staying well east and north of the Hawaiian Islands with no effect on the weather except for a weakening of the trade winds.
On the 24th, the remains of the depression reached 24N 150W and on the 26th and 27th was observed by the polar orbiting satellites near 32N 160W as a small but well organized circulation. It then moved west southwest and crossed Midway Island at about 310600Z with no significant effect on the island's weather. The JTWC subsequently issued advisories on the cyclone when it reintensified into a tropical storm west of the International Dateline.
FEFA was still an intense hurricane with sustained winds estimated at 90 knots when it crossed 140W into the Central Pacific at 050600Z. FEFA moved west at 15 knots along 18N in a rather straight trajectory as it approached the Hawaiian Islands while gradually weakening. Swell waves moving ahead of FEFA measured 15 feet as they passed NOAA Buoy 51004 and headed toward the east facing beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii. Sea water and debris washed onto the coastal roads near Punaluu Harbor on the Big Island's Ka'u coast and resulted in their closure.
Forecast guidance suggested that FEFA would curve west northwest up the windward side of the Islands. A slight northerly component in the westward movement did occur as FEFA approached the Islands early on August 7 as a tropical storm. The center of FEFA passed close to or directly over the Big Island at 080000Z as the sea level barometric pressure at Hilo dropped to 1005 mb with FEFA's intensity judged at tropical depression strength and dissipating. Remnants of FEFA were now interacting with the Islands' terrain and a cold core upper trough, which had been present near the Islands for several days. This trough was largely responsible for the quick dissipation of FEFA, because of the strong vertical wind shear over the area with strong easterly winds at the surface and westerly winds aloft.
Nevertheless, locally strong winds did occur on the north side of the remnant circulation. Wind gusts ranged between 40 and 50 knots at some localities, mainly over the counties of Hawaii and Maui. Some very heavy downpours occurred, particularly on the Big Island of Hawaii, as thunderstorms developed within the northeast quadrant of the circulation. These thunderstorms formed offshore to the northeast of the Big Island and then built rapidly southwestward over the slopes of Mauna Kea and the Kohala mountains. Localized flash flooding was reported in the Kohala and Hamakua districts, including the Waipio Valley during the forenoon hours of the 7th.
Leaving the Big Island, the remnant circulation moved west northwest and passed south of Oahu and Kauai on August 8. On the 9th, FEFA was dissipating over the waters northwest of Kauai.
Lightning caused injuries to two persons on the Big Island. In the Hilo area, a man suffered burns from a telephone as a discharge moved through the wires. The second injury occurred at the Volcanoes National Park, where a person walking between two buildings was injured when lighting struck nearby.
U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters were tasked to fly aerial reconnaissance on FEFA, because of its threat to the Hawaiian Islands. Reconnaissance crews flew three missions on FEFA and made several fixes on the weakening tropical cyclone as it neared the Islands.
KEVIN had been a moderately strong hurricane for well over a week while moving slowly but steadily in a generally northwest direction into the Central Pacific. KEVIN crossed 140W early on the 9th near 21N, which is rather far north and not considered much of a threat to Hawaii. Storms, which move northwest, parallel to the Hawaiian chain while remaining well offshore, as a rule cause an interruption of the normal trades and bring generally sunny and fair weather to the state. This proved to be the case, as a weakening KEVIN continued on a northwest path with its center staying almost 900 miles off the windward coasts of the Hawaiian Islands.
KEVIN was barely at hurricane strength as it entered the Central Pacific. It was subsequently downgraded to a tropical storm at 091800Z near 22N 142W and to a tropical depression at 111200Z near 25N 145W. The final advisory on dissipating Tropical Depression KEVIN was issued at 120000Z near 25N 147W. The remnant circulation, however, did persist a while longer as it slowly drifted north to finally lose its identity late on the 14th near 35N 150W.