Hawaii bracing for rare strike from hurricane as Douglas creeps closer

After spending some time as a Category 4 hurricane Thursday night, Hurricane Douglas began to lose wind strength on Friday. However, the storm is expected to still be a hurricane as it barrels toward Hawaii by the end of the weekend.

As 11 a.m. Friday, Douglas was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and was trucking along to the west-northwest at 18 mph. The storm was about 785 miles away from Hilo, Hawaii, and 985 miles east of the state capital of Honolulu. At peak intensity, the storm churned through the Pacific with winds of 130 mph.

Douglas is expected to remain a major hurricane (Category 3 strength or higher) through most of Friday. Over the weekend, Douglas will continue to move into a much harsher environment for tropical systems to thrive, which will cause the storm to lose additional wind strength.

While Douglas will have to battle through an area of moderate to high wind shear, AccuWeather forecasters still expect the storm to maintain hurricane strength as it reaches the Hawaiian Islands by the end of the weekend.

In anticipation of Douglas passing near or over the islands, Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a state of emergency declaration on Thursday.

Hurricane watches have also been issued for Maui and the Big Island.

“Our top priority is always the safety, health and well-being of our residents and visitors. Please take immediate steps to protect your families, loved ones, employees and property,” Ige said in a news release.

“The volcanoes that are on the islands are over thousands of feet high and are like pyramids in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. “Hurricanes are low-level storms, and when they run into these volcanic islands they’re going to follow the easiest path around.”

Because of this, AccuWeather forecasters expect Douglas to travel north of the Big Island, Maui and Molokai with a landfall possible near the town of Kailua on Oahu.

Douglas is forecast to be less than one on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes as the storm is expected to quickly lose wind intensity as it interacts with the rugged island terrain.

By Monday, Douglas is forecast to be downgraded to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression by Tuesday morning.

Regardless of intensity, Douglas is still expected to bring enough rainfall to cause isolated flash flooding and mudslides across the islands. Winds mainly out of the north from the Big Island to Oahu will keep rainfall totals of 4 inches to 8 inches on the northern and eastern sides of the islands.

Hurricane Olivia in September 2018 was the last tropical system to bring direct impacts to the islands. The storm made landfall on Maui and Lanai as a tropical storm, which was the first landfall on these islands in recorded history.

Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Douglas_2020-07-23_2220Z.jpg

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