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Tropical Storm May Threaten Hawaii

If you’re busy packing for your upcoming trip to Hawaii, you may want to throw an umbrella and rain boots into your suitcase. Tropical Storm Guillermo may bring some severe weather to Hawaii starting late Tuesday night into Thursday. However, it’s anyone’s guess how strong the severe weather might be and what may be its impact.

At 5:00 a.m. Monday, the storm had sustained winds of 70 mph with higher gusts, just below hurricane strength. The tropical storm force winds extend 125 miles from the center. And, at 8:00 a.m. Monday, the storm was centered 600 miles east-southeast of Hilo. It was moving west-northwest at 10 mph.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm “will bring the potential for very heavy rainfall and flash flooding on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Most of the heavy rains and winds are north of the center. So if it follows the current track, the state could avoid the worst of it. However, the margin of error for the track is about 85 miles in each direction, so the storm could still pass directly over the islands, bringing tropical storm force winds and heavy rains.

The National Weather Service says, even if the storm passes north of the islands, Guillermo is about 350 miles wide and Hawaii will still see some rain, possibly heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday.

According to the National Weather Service, wind shear tearing at the storm continues to weaken it, but Guillermo is still expected to have winds greater than 40 mph when it passes just north of the islands or over the islands late Tuesday night into Friday.

“It is still too soon to determine with certainty which islands are most likely to experience the greatest impacts from Guillermo. It is also important to note that significant impacts can extend well away from the center,” forecasters said.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that rain and wind ahead of the storm’s center should begin to affect Hawaii island late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, said Matthew Foster, a meteorologist with the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service.

“We are anticipating heavy rainfall and winds,” Foster said. High surf could also threaten lives and property.

A high-surf advisory for the eastern shores of Oahu, Hawaii island, Kauai and Maui is posted through 6 p.m. Tuesday. Forecasters warned that the surf, expected to be 10 to 14 feet through Tuesday on those shores, could be “life-threatening” on Monday.

The storm’s winds will likely be from the northeast, so windward and mauka areas will see most of the rain and wind. But leeward sections will also see some effects.

Tradewinds are expected to gradually decrease as Guillermo disrupts the flow, the National Weather Service said.

Guillermo was a hurricane before being downgraded to a tropical storm.

A crew from the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the Hurricane Hunters, flew through the storm Sunday and data from the flights “has been critical in locating the center, determining the current intensity and adjusting the wind radii (of Hurricane Guillermo),” forecasters said.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said there is a 70 percent chance of a busier-than-usual hurricane season, with five to eight storms. The normal season has four or five storms.

The red areas are sections with the highest winds.

A tropical storm watch could be posted Monday for portions of the Hawaiian islands. Watches are posted about 48 hours ahead of a major storm’s arrival, and a warning is posted about 24 hours before a possible landfall.

So, if you’re traveling to Hawaii this week, keep a keen eye on the storm, so you don’t get caught without a plan.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Aug 3, 2015