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Fernanda weakens slightly as it approaches isles

  • COURTESY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE Tropical Storm Fernanda’s 5-day forecast cone.

Update 5 a.m.

Fernanda continued to weaken overnight, but still remains a tropical storm.

At 5 a.m. today, Tropical Storm Fernanda was about 755 miles east of Hilo and packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center on Oahu. Fernanda is moving west at 12 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center.

Fernanda is expected to become a tropical depression later today, with more weakening projected over the next couple days, weather officials said.

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Tropical Storm Fernanda, which crossed over into the Central Pacific Thursday, is expected to continue weakening until it dissipates Monday north of the state.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, Tropical Storm Fernanda was about 900 miles east of Hilo and packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center on Oahu. Fernanda is moving west at 12 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center.

The storm peaked as a Category 4 hurricane in the Eastern Pacific last weekend, but has been fading as it moves over cooler waters and faces wind shear.

“The forecast calls for continued weakening with Fernanda becoming a remnant low during the next 24 to 36 hours,” the hurricane center’s 5 p.m. update said. Fernanda should dissipate by Monday.

“Although impact to our state should remain minimal residents should be prepared for high surf and the potential for heavy rains and high humidity beginning this weekend,” Honolulu city officials said earlier Thursday. They said the approaching storm should serve as a reminder to residents to discuss their hurricane preparedness plans.

An east swell generated by Fernanda has led to a high surf advisory for eastern shores of the Big Island and Maui, with waves from 5 to 8 feet expected at least through 6 a.m. Friday. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Honolulu said to expect choppy surf and strong rip currents that will make swimming dangerous.

The east swell is coinciding with expected arrival of the summer’s last bout of “king tides,” which are a combination of higher-that-usual tides and sea-level rise.

The weather service issued a king tides advisory for Hawaii for the next several days, saying the greatest potential for coastal flooding will be during the mid- to late-afternoon hours through this weekend.

The simultaneous Fernanda-inspired east swell and the king tides, “may cause greater wave run-up along exposed windward coastlines, especially during high tide,” forecaster said this morning in a special weather statement. “Impacts of the king tides may include flooding of beaches that are normally dry, salt water inundation of typically vulnerable low-lying roads, docks, boat ramps and other coastal infrastructure.”

Depending on the exact track of Fernanda, much of the state could see increased rain and thunderstorms by early next week. But maximum sustained winds are expected to be about 25 mph by that time.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, which monitors the Eastern Pacific, is tracking another storm system.

Tropical Storm Greg, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, is expected to be a Category 1 hurricane by this weekend. It is forecast to weaken back to a tropical storm by early next week when it will be approaching the Central Pacific. At 5 p.m. Hawaii time Thursday, Greg was 770 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, moving west at 10 mph.

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