Hurricane Hector Is On Course For A Showdown With A Massive Erupting Volcano
A major hurricane is about to have a showdown with a powerful volcano and scientists around the world aren’t sure what the clash of two of nature’s most powerful forces will mean.
While the billing seems to identify more with “Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant in Wrestlemania 3” than it does with a global weather report, the encounter is building up to be a bit worthy of some inflated hype because it could have detrimental effects on our ozone layer (more on that below).
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began its eruption phase on April 30, 2018. Since then, Kilauea has maintained a strong eruptive phase, costing the Hawaiian island millions in tourism and destroying countless homes and businesses. Kilauea, like most volcanoes around the world do when they get active, is rattling the region with earthquakes as large as 6.9 magnitude.
But it’s about to get a visitor.
Hurricane Hector, a category 3 cyclone that’s maintaining winds of 120 mph, is likely to nick the island and interact with the volatile Kilauea. This would send winds and a major drop in pressure on a collision course with a volcano in the midst of a 3-month eruption phase.
Two colossal forces of nature are about to have a showdown in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
So what does any of this mean?
Most likely, it means a lot more lightning. And maybe problems with the ozone layer.
Back in 2013, a much less powerful Tropical Storm Flossie engaged the Hawaiin islands and sucked up a then less volatile Kilauea’s gases and particles. This mixture of volcano particles and extreme moisture increased the frequency of lightning events. This means more powerful thunderstorms associated with a tropical storm/hurricane’s outer bands.
In the summer of 1991, Typhoon Yunya, hit the northernmost portion of the Philippines at the same time that Mount Pinatubo was experiencing a massive eruption. The effects of the Yunya were minimal, however, Mount Pinatubo breathed volatile life into the storm’s outer bands and the island of Lunzo experienced catastrophic mudslides. Up to 300 people died during the storm.
But the interaction between Pinatubo and Yunya gets even more provocative, considering what could have been.
The hurricane ended up siphoning out hydrogen chloride from Pinatubo, but fortunately in this case, that hydrogen chloride never reached the stratosphere where it could have wreaked havoc on our ozone layer. This would have translated into a large-scale depletion of our ozone layer’s protective shield. Instead, Yunya rained out most of the hydrogen chloride preventing any such chemistry from occurring at the top of our world’s most protective layer.
And here, in history, we find the devastating potential for any future colossal volcano and hurricane interactions, including Kilauea and Hector, respectively. Any event that depletes ozone protection has the potential to increase skin cancer rates and kill off livestock around the world.
The implications for surface life on Earth from such a future eruption could be profound,” the scientists write in Geophysical Research Letters.
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Volcanoes and Hurricanes, Unusual, but not so unusual, bunkmates
The Pacific Ring of Fire, as it is known for its volcano and earthquake density, is also a breeding ground for tropical cyclonic activity. So it is reasonable to realize that volcanoes and hurricanes have and do interact with one another. But it isn’t as if it happens on an annual basis and there isn’t enough understanding by scientists to formulate exact positions over the matter.
All we know is that two powerful forces of nature are due to collide potentially as early as Wednesday evening.
Let’s look at both Hector’s potential path and timeline via the National Weather Service. I’ve added the red line for the projected collision.
Hector is traveling west at 270/10 kt. A subtropical ridge should provide steering that keeps Hector on its current course, however, the cone is a cone for a reason; small shifts should be anticipated, although variance outside of the cone is unlikely at this juncture in the forecasting. The environment in the Pacific is favorable for maintaining, or increasing, Hector’s power.
In other words, the fuel is there for Hector’s taking.
The Hawaiin Islands are on notice and should have already made considerations and preparations for Hector.
In the meantime, Kilauea awaits for a potentially historic meeting of nature’s baddest of forces. Wrestlemania 3, for those who forgot or aren’t old enough to remember, ended when Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre The Giant to the mat in front of thousands of rabid WWF fans in Detroit.
What does this mean for Hector and Kilauea? Probably nothing, but it’s never a bad thing to take an opportunity and bring up old Wrestlemania anecdotes.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.