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Tropical storm warning issued for Big Island, Maui County as Hurricane Douglas approaches Hawaii

  • Courtesy Gov. David Ige

  • CIRA/NOAA
                                A series of satellite images taken today shows the progress of Hurricane Douglas.

    CIRA/NOAA

    A series of satellite images taken today shows the progress of Hurricane Douglas.

UPDATE: Friday 10:45 p.m.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Big Island and Maui County as Hurricane Douglas continues its approach to the islands.

A warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in the area within 36 hours.

The Category 2 hurricane is expected to be near the main Hawaiian islands Saturday night through Sunday night, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Douglas weakened slightly Friday night but is still packing winds at 110 mph. It was about 555 miles east of Hilo and 750 miles east-southeast of Honolulu just before 11 p.m.

Douglas is moving west-northwest at 18 mph. This motion is expected to continue through Saturday, followed by a slight decrease in forward speed and a turn toward the west. Though gradual weakening is expected through the weekend, Douglas is still projected to be near hurricane strength when it nears the state.

Hurricane-force winds extend out 30 miles from Douglas’ center and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 115 miles.

A hurricane watch is also in effect for the Big Island, Maui County and Oahu. A watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 36 to 48 hours.

The storm is still expected to be a weak Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of about 75 mph on Sunday night when it starts passing near or over Oahu, and a strong tropical storm when it approaches Kauai on Monday, according to CPHC forecasters.

The CPHC said late Friday night that hurricane conditions are possible across portions of the main Hawaiian islands late Saturday night through Monday. Tropical storm conditions are expected across Hawaii County and Maui County beginning Saturday night or Sunday.

Forecasters said potential hazards in Hawaii include:

>> Large swells this weekend. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions for a couple of days.

>> Heavy rainfall is expected to affect portions of the main islands from late Saturday night through Monday. Total rain accumulations of 5 to 10 inches with locally higher amounts will be possible on the smaller islands, especially across elevated terrain. “This rain may result in life-threatening flash flooding and land slides, as well as rapid water level rises on small streams,” forecasters said. Three to six inches of rain are possible on the Big Island, with locally higher amounts, they added.

8:05 p.m.

The intensity and speed of Hurricane Douglas has remained steady in the last three hours, according to the 8 p.m. update of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

The storm was located 610 miles east of Hilo and 810 miles east-southeast of Honolulu just before 8 p.m., forecasters said. Douglas remained a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was still moving west-northeast at 20 mph.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 105 miles.

“On the forecast track, Douglas will be near the main Hawaiian Islands Saturday night through Sunday night. … Gradual weakening is expected to continue through the weekend. However, Douglas is still forecast to be near hurricane strength when it nears the islands,” forecasters said.

Oahu, the Big Island and Maui County remain under a hurricane watch. (See below.)

4:40 p.m.

Oahu is now under a hurricane watch, joining Maui County and the Big Island as Hurricane Douglas approaches the islands, the Central Pacific Hurricane said.

A watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area within 36 to 48 hours.

“Hurricane conditions are possible on Oahu Sunday night, with tropical storm conditions possible Sunday,” forecasters said. “On the forecast track, Douglas will move dangerously close to the Hawaiian islands, and a hurricane watch is posted for all islands except Kauai County, which may need to be added on Saturday.”

Just before 5 p.m. today, the storm was located 665 miles east of Hilo and 865 miles east-southeast of Honolulu, forecasters said. Douglas remained a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was moving west-northeast at 20 mph.

“Gradual weakening is expected to continue through the weekend. However, Douglas is still forecast to be near hurricane strength when it nears the islands,” forecasters said.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 105 miles.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu posted several warnings and advisories in advance of Douglas, including:

>> A flash flood watch for all Hawaiian islands. “Intense rainfall will be possible, especially along the windward slopes. Flood prone roads and other low lying areas may be closed due to elevated runoff and overflowing streams. Urban areas may receive more significant flooding and property damage due to rapid runoff.” The watch is for Kauai, Niihau and Oahu from Sunday morning through Monday afternoon; and for Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and the Big Island from Saturday evening through Monday afternoon

>> A high surf warning from 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday for east-facing shores of Molokai, Maui, Big Island, and Kahoolawe. The weather service predicts “dangerously large breaking waves of 15 to 25 feet, with surf rising Saturday morning and peaking Saturday night through Sunday. Ocean water will surge over the coastline causing possible damage to roadways and other coastal infrastructure. Powerful currents will be present at most beaches. Large breaking waves and strong currents may impact harbor entrances and channels causing challenging boat handling.”

>> A hurricane warning for Hawaiian offshore waters beyond 40 nautical miles out to 240 nautical miles including the portion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument east of French Frigate Shoals.

>> A hurricane watch for Maui County Leeward Waters with northeast winds 35 to 45 knots, gusts up to 65 knots and seas 7 to 12 feet.

CPHC forecasters say Douglas’ potential impacts include:

>> Wind: Hurricane conditions are possible on the Big Island late Saturday night and Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible by Saturday evening. Hurricane conditions are possible over Maui County Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible beginning late Saturday night. Hurricane conditions are possible on Oahu Sunday night, with tropical storm conditions possible Sunday.

>> Surf: Large swells generated by Douglas are expected to affect the Hawaiian Islands this weekend. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions for a couple of days.

>> Rain: “Heavy rainfall associated with Douglas is expected to affect portions of the Hawaiian Islands from late Saturday night through Monday. Total rain accumulations of 6 to 10 inches with isolated maximum totals of 15 inches are possible, especially in higher terrain. This rain may result in life-threatening flash flooding and land slides.”

1:55 p.m.

Hurricane Douglas remains a Category 3 storm on a track that will reach Hawaii this weekend at “near hurricane strength,” the Central Pacific Hurricane said just before 2 p.m.

The storm was located 725 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 930 miles east-southeast of Honolulu early this afternoon, forecasters said.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was moving west-northeast at 18 mph, which was no change from the 11 a.m. update.

“Gradual weakening is expected to continue through the weekend. However, Douglas is still forecast to be near hurricane strength when it nears the islands,” forecasters said.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 115 miles.

Hawaii and Maui counties remain under a hurricane watch.

1:35 p.m.

Gov. David Ige and state officials continued to urge residents to prepare ahead for Hurricane Douglas as the storm continues on its path toward Hawaii.

Ige, who on Thursday issued a “pre-landfall emergency proclamation” authorizing state funds to be released quickly for relief of disaster-related damage and losses, said he was prepared to activate additional National Guard personnel as necessary to support preparations for Hurricane Douglas.

In addition, Ige said he would allow out-of-state travelers and returning residents in the state’s mandatory, 14-day quarantine to break rules as a last resort to get hurricane supplies.

“I would like to remind everyone who is in quarantine that you should remain in quarantine to the extent possible,” said Ige during an afternoon news conference. “If you need supplies, please ask a friend and others to provide and help you acquire them. As a last resort, if you need to, you can break quarantine to get the needed supplies.”

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Ige asked that the quarantine breakers getting necessary supplies to maintain physical distance from others and opt for non-contact retail transactions, to the extent possible, such as curbside pickup. They should have made arrangements for the delivery of food, but will be allowed to leave specifically to get supplies, and then return to quarantine.

“We will be asking you to shelter in place, but should you feel the current location is not safe please seek help in an emergency shelter,” said Ige.

Those in quarantine who need shelter, however, should contact the state Health Department, he said, or emergency responders to get to a shelter.

Should an outbreak occur at one or several shelters, Ige said the state Health Department would respond, and identify others who may be exposed or in close contact with that individual. Also, he said the department has available hotel rooms for isolation if there is a COVID-19 positive resident that needs to be moved and isolated as quickly as possible.

He did not have a statewide count of emergency shelters, and said counties, which have the responsibility of providing shelters for emergency evacuations, are still finalizing them.

Due to physical distancing guidelines, however, more space will be needed between evacuees, and therefore more sites would be needed, and more volunteers to staff them.

Although there have been discussions about it, there are no formal arrangements in place for the use of hotel rooms as shelter.

All evacuees should bring an emergency supply kit with the usual provisions, he said, as well as face masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to the shelter with them.

12:40 p.m.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell this afternoon announced he will allow indoor gatherings of over 50 people as Hurricane Douglas tracks toward Hawaii and the state marked a record of 60 new coronavirus cases.

“A double whammy; COVID-19, highest cases ever, a hurricane that is heading straight and it looks like it will pass through every single island,” Caldwell said. “Maybe the center-right over Oahu. Hopefully, it will not be a hurricane, but a tropical storm.”

Noon

A flash flood watch has been issued for Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii island, from Saturday evening through Monday afternoon.

The National Weather Service warns of an increased threat of flash flooding, along with intense rainfall, as Hurricane Douglas passes near or over the state of Hawaii.

Flood-prone roads and other low-lying areas may be closed due to elevated runoff and overflowing streams, officials said. Urban areas may also receive more significant flooding and property damage due to rapid runoff. The public should not cross fast-flowing water in a vehicle or on foot.

A flash flood watch means that conditions are favorable for flash flooding, which is life-threatening. The public should monitor forecasts and take action if a flash flood warning is issued.

10:45 a.m.

A hurricane watch has been issued for Hawaii island and Maui County as Hurricane Douglas remains on course for Hawaii.

A watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area within 36 to 48 hours.

Although Douglas has weakened slightly this morning, it remains a Category 3 storm.

As of 11 a.m., Douglas was 785 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 990 miles east-southeast of Honolulu with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, moving west-northwest at 18 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

“Gradual and steady weakening is expected to continue through the weekend,” the CPHC said. “However, Douglas is still forecast to be near hurricane strength when it nears the islands.”

Forecasters warned of the following potential hazards:

>> Hurricane conditions are possible on the Big Island late Saturday night and Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible by Saturday evening. Hurricane conditions are possible over Maui County Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible beginning late Saturday night.

>> Large swells will begin affecting portions of the Hawaiian Islands on Saturday. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions for a couple of days.”

>> Heavy rainfall is expected in the Hawaiian islands from late Saturday night through Monday. “Total rain accumulations of 6 to 10 inches with isolated maximum totals of 15 inches are possible, especially in higher terrain. This rain may result in life-threatening flash flooding and land slides.”

They also warn that wind gusts near mountains and higher terrain can be significantly enhanced as they blow down-slope.

The five-day forecast has the storm as a strong tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of around 70 mph when passes near or over Oahu on Sunday night, then moving on toward Kauai with slightly weaker winds by Monday morning.

However, forecasters noted, “It is important not to focus on the exact forecast track. Due to Douglas’ angle of approach to Hawaii, any small changes in the track could lead to significant differences in where the worst weather will occur.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

Hurricane Douglas crossed over into the Central Pacific overnight, weakening slightly. However, it remained a major Category 3 storm.

Located about 895 miles east-southeast of Hilo at 5 a.m., Douglas is packing maximum sustained winds of 120 mph while moving west-northwest at 19 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Douglas is expected to hold to this track over the next few days with a gradual slowing in forward speed and a slight turn toward the west.

Douglas is forecast to reach Hawaii Saturday night or Sunday morning while still near hurricane strength.

National Weather Service forecasters said conditions will quickly begin to deteriorate across the state from east to west late Saturday night through early next week as Hurricane Douglas approaches and moves near or over parts of the isles.

“There is an increasing chance that strong winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning Saturday night based on the latest forecast from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center,” the NWS said in its forecast discussion. “The most likely arrival time of tropical storm force wind speeds based on this forecast is early Sunday morning for the eastern end of the state and late Sunday for the western end.”

Watches for the Big Island and Maui County are possible later today.

If the latest forecast is realized, weather officials warn that impacts will include: strong winds capable of damaging infrastructure, downing trees and causing power outages, heavy rainfall that could lead to flash flooding, and warning-level surf for coastal areas exposed to Douglas moving through.

A combination of the winds, large seas, and higher than predicted water levels could also translate to coastal flooding issues in the vulnerable low-lying areas due to surge, officials said.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Hawaiian offshore waters beyond 40 to 240 nautical miles, including the portion of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument east of French Frigate Shoals.

NWS has also issued a hurricane watch for Maui County and Hawaii island windward waters. Hurricane-force north winds of 30 to 40 knots are expected Saturday night are shift to the west at 45 to 60 knots early Sunday.

Seas are expected to build to 12 to 16 feet late Saturday night, then 15 to 30 feet early Sunday.

Officials warn that these extreme winds will likely capsize or damage vessels and severely reduce visibility.

A small craft advisory, meanwhile, has been issued for Maalaea Bay, Pailolo and Alenuihaha channels, and leeward and southeast waters of Hawaii island, effective until 6 p.m. Saturday.

On Hawaii beaches, large swells generated by Douglas are expected to begin rolling in on Saturday. Beachgoers are likely to see life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Flash flooding is expected to be an issue as well as heavy rainfall accompanying Douglas is anticipated to hit the islands starting late Saturday night through Monday. Forecasters advise that rainfall totaling 6 to 10 inches, with isolated areas seeing up to 15 inches, are possible, especially in elevated areas.

The rain may lead to “life-threatening flash flooding and landslides, as well as rapid water level rises on small streams,” weather officials said.

A flash flood watch will likely be required later today.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from Douglas’ center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles.

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