BY DR. RICHARD KELLEY — As I sat down to write this week’s message to the Outrigger ‘ohana, our CEO, David Carey, was on a flight from Hong Kong to Seoul, Korea, and then home to Honolulu. He was lucky to get a seat on a flight out of Hong Kong when he did. He departed just a few hours ahead of Super Typhoon Haima, which at that moment was heading almost directly toward Hong Kong, causing the cancellation of nearly 200 flights out of the city. Earlier in the week, the storm wreaked severe damage in the Philippines.
Haima was the second major tropical storm to hit that region this week. A few days before, Super Typhoon Sarika had also passed through the Philippines before crossing the South China Sea and slamming into China’s resort island of Hainan.
Scientists believe that the increase in the number and severity of storms spawned in the equatorial Pacific is related to the cyclical warming of the ocean called El Niño. For those interested, the Met Office, part of the UK’s National Weather Service, has created a good, short video on El Niño, which is available on You Tube1. The video shows how the waters in the eastern equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean heat up over several years. This leads to frequent, severe tropical storms such as we have seen this year all over the Pacific.
Then the cycle reverses. La Niña is the opposite of El Niño and represents periods of below-average sea-surface temperatures across the equatorial east and central Pacific Ocean. According to NOAA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, during La Niña, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in America’s southeastern states and cooler than normal in the Northwest. If a La Niña event is strong enough, it could also mean above-average precipitation and cooler temperatures in the northern Midwest, which by winter could mean more snow. Most scientists believe the Pacific Ocean has come to the end of El Niño and is entering a La Niña phase.
These changes will definitely affect Travel & Tourism, particularly in the Pacific Ocean areas where Outrigger operates or is developing nearly 40 properties ranging from hotels and resorts to condominiums and timeshares.
As I wrote last week, difficult weather conditions are a part of life on Planet Earth. At Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, we are always looking for ways to be better prepared for the next storm. We should, because as just about everyone who keeps a close eye on major oceanic storms says, it’s impossible to tell when a full-blown hurricane, typhoon or cyclone will bear down on one of our properties in the Pacific or Indian oceans, but eventually one will.
Let’s be ready!