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Tropical Storm Darby crosses into Central Pacific

  • NOAA / GOES WEST

    This composite satellite image shows remnants of former Hurricane Celia northeast of Kauai early this morning. Tropical Storm Darby, center, is nearing the Central Pacific and weakening. Tropical Storm Estelle, right, is intensifying southeast of Mexico.

  • NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

    Tropical Storm Darby is expected to approach the islands, at left, over the weekend. On Wednesday, Darby was 850 miles east of Hilo and moving west at 13 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were 50 mph. Behind Darby is Tropical Storm Estelle, moving west at 13 mph with winds of 70 mph. This photo was taken Wednesday by the GOES-15 geosynchronous satellite.

  • CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE CENTER

    This graphic shows the projected intensity and path of Tropical Storm Darby over the next five days.

Tropical Storm Darby crossed over to the Central Pacific this morning and is on track to threaten the Big Island and Maui with high winds and rain over the weekend.

At 5 p.m., the former hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was centered about 810 miles east of Hilo, moving west at 13 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Tropical storm-force winds extend up to 105 miles from Darby’s center.

The latest forecast track has the storm taking a sharp turn to the northwest just before reaching Hawaii island, and moving north of the state. Darby’s maximum sustained winds are expected to intensify to 60 mph over the weekend before falling below 50 mph by Monday as it travels near the state’s eastern islands, according to the hurricane center.

Darby’s effect on Hawaii’s weather will depend on how close it passes to the islands.

A turn to the north would have the least impact, depending on how far away the storm passes north. But it could still bring heavy rains, humidity and rain, similar to, or a little more intense than, the weather over the last two days.

If it passes south or over the islands, there could be stronger winds and heavier rains because the strongest rain associated with tropical storms is generally on the northeast or northwest section of the system and the strongest winds are near the center of the storm.

The actual path of a storm can vary by more than 170 miles on forecasts five days out, so Darby’s effect on Hawaii’s weather is still uncertain. However, hurricane center forecasters said Wednesday that Hilo has a 35 percent chance of seeing tropical storm force winds of more than 39 mph by Monday.

Behind Darby, Estelle remained at tropical storm strength, with sustained winds of 65 mph, about 1030 miles west of Baja California. Estelle is moving west at 14 mph and is expected to weaken into a post-tropical cyclone by the weekend.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are also watching two other areas of thunderstorms southeast of Estelle that could also develop into tropical cyclones in the next five days.

Estelle and the other developing systems are still too far away to predict if they will affect Hawaii’s weather.

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