Hurricane Douglas menaces Hawaii coast, threatening heavy rain, strong winds


The Hurricane Watch for Maui County, including the islands of Maui, Lana'i, Moloka'i, and Kaho'olawe has been upgraded to a Hurricane Warning. Often times, storms will weaken to Tropical Storm Status prior to arriving in the islands, but it is possible Douglas will hit the state as a hurricane soon.

Hurricane Douglas peaked earlier in the week as a Category 4 Major Hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. The CPHC expects: "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions for a couple of days".

Heavy rainfall associated with Douglas is expected to affect portions of the main Hawaiian Islands from late tonight through Monday. A Flash Flood Watch and a High Surf Warning are also in effect.

Hurricane Hunters from the Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron spent most of the night with Douglas, making 5 passes through the center.

Up to five inches of rain fell in Corpus Christi and the storm surge was in excess of five feet. For the Big Island, Douglas could produce 2 to 5 inches of rainfall over the northern half.

Since Douglas is a fairly small tropical cyclone, small shifts in its track or intensity fluctuations can mean major differences for the islands in its projected path.

"Conditions will continue to worsen across parts of the Big Island and Maui in the next few hours as Hurricane Douglas near these islands", reported the National Weather Service in Honolulu this morning. While the southwest corner of Maui and Hawaii islands have best odds of getting through this storm unscathed, it's imperative everyone plan for the worst anyway. If it sagged 20 miles to the south, it would have been a much different outcome.

The terrain can also help create extreme winds well away from the core of the hurricane's winds. Some downslope winds could also feature extremely low dewpoints, leading to fire weather conditions.

It's rare for hurricanes to hit the islands, and their small size compared to the vastness of the Pacific Ocean plays a role.

President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Douglas beginning on July 23, 2020, and continuing.

"Maui has skirted so many hurricanes", she said. Due to the steep terrain of the islands, localized strong wind gusts are expected.

Hurricane Douglas is a relatively fast mover. It is now 780 kilometres east of Hilo, Hawaii. While it will slow down, it shouldn't linger as long as Lane did in 2018, which created an extended period of record-breaking heavy rainfall for portions of the state.

During a Saturday news conference, Hawaii Governor David Ige, said: "We know that it is weakening as it approaches, but it still will have significant impact on each island".

As of 5 a.m. this morning, Hurricane Douglas remains a unsafe hurricane, 85 miles northeast of Hilo and moving west-northwest near 16 mph.



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