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Another Tropical System Set to Impact Hawaii

hilda path

Another tropical system could impact Hawaii by the end of the work week, fresh off the heels of Tropical Storm Guillermo’s glancing blow last week.

Hurricane Hilda, which as of Sunday morning was still a major Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles-per-hour (MPH), was still about 600 miles or so off of the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Hilda is expected to turn towards the west-northwest in the general direction of America’s 50th state, however, it is expected to continue to run into cooler waters and increased wind shear as it slowly approaches Hawaii.

Hilda’s primary impact on Hawaii is expected to be large surf, and High Surf Advisories were posted by the National Weather Service’s Honolulu office on Sunday morning for south- and east-facing shores of Maui and the Big Island.. Waves are expected to increase into Monday and Tuesday as Hilda slowly approaches from the southwest, with wave heights perhaps increasing to 15-20 feet in favored locations by Tuesday, particularly on the Big Island.

The main question, however, will be whether Hilda’s wind and rains will reach Hawaii. Models are still differing on whether Hilda will be picked up by an area of high pressure east of Hawaii, which would push the storm further out to sea and likely entirely miss the state. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center, however, slightly adjusted its official forecast on Sunday (see map) to nudge the storm slightly closer to Hawaii by Thursday or Friday. Either way, Hilda is expected to be significantly weaker, perhaps just a remnant low, if it does impact Hawaii, and again surf is expected to be Hilda’s main impact.

Last summer, Tropical Storm Iselle made a rare direct hit on Hawaii, resulting in nearly $80 million dollars’ worth of damage and devastating the state’s papaya crop. Despite its location in the center of the Pacific Ocean, tropical impacts are rare due to the relatively ocean waters surrounding the state. However, an active Pacific hurricane season, likely caused by warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures due to a strong El Nino, have kept the tropics active so far this summer.

Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on the tropics.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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