Tropical Storm Ignacio continued to strengthen and remains on track to become a hurricane and pass close to the Big Island on Monday.
At 5 a.m. Wednesday, the storm was about 1,425 miles east-southeast of Hilo, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, moving west at 9 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend 60 miles from the center.
The storm is expected to strengthen quickly and become a hurricane on Thursday as it moves over warmer waters with little wind shear to weaken it. It could become a category 2 hurricane this weekend with 110 mph winds. But should weaken back to a category 1 hurricane as it approaches the Big Island.
The storm could start to affect the weather on the Big Island Saturday night into Sunday and the rest of the islands as early as Sunday. However, forecasters said it is still too early to know the exact path and intensity of the storm.
Ignacio is the ninth named storm of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season. But it may not be the only strom threat to the islands next week. Another storm, about 800 miles south-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico has a 100 percent chance of intensifying into a tropical depression within 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday morning. The storm system is moving west-northwest at 15 mph.
“It’s the same drill. This is a very active tropical cyclone season because of El Nino and we will probably continue to see numerous storms develop in the East Pacific and Central Pacific and people need to be prepared,” said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist with the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service.
The forecast for Wednesday calls for humid conditions and partly sunny skies with scattered showers in the morning, followed by cloudy skies and showers in the afternoon. Some of the rain could be locally heavy. The chance of showers and heavy rain continues into the evening.
A flash flood watch for all islands continues until 6 p.m.
The weather service said light trade winds may return Thursday, but there will still be a chance of more afternoon showers.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Kilo is drifting west and expected to take a turn to the southwest Wednesday, northeast of Johnston Island, which is under a tropical storm warning.
At 5 a.m., the storm was 190 miles northeast of Johnston Island and about 560 miles west-southwest of Barking Sands, Kauai.
The storm had sustained winds of 35 mph and was moving west at 3 mph.
The storm is not a direct threat to the main Hawaiian islands, although moisture associated with it brought heavy rains over the last three days and continues to create muggy conditions and the chance of more rain.