LIHUE — Hurricane Iselle is on a track toward Hawaii and could bring heavy rain and strong winds if it hits the islands later this week.
But the National Weather Service said Sunday it’s likely the category 3 hurricane will lessen by the time it reaches the islands — if it does at all — and it’s no certainty it will continue its current track Hawaii-bound.
“We can’t say with precision, with certainty, where it’s going to be at that exact time,” said Derek Wroe, NWS lead forecaster in Honolulu. “(But) we’re expecting a much weaker system to approach the island.”
Iselle was reported as a major category 3 hurricane in the Eastern Pacific Sunday morning with sustained winds of 115 mph. The storm, about 1,495 miles east of Hilo, was moving west at 12 mph at 5 a.m. Hawaii time. That put it on track to be about 70 miles east-southeast of Hilo, on the Big Island, Thursday evening as a weakening tropical storm, before possibly continuing on to Oahu by Friday. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser warned residents to be prepared to face inclement weather if they head out to vote in Saturday’s primary election.
But the storm is expected to weaken as it crosses into the Central Pacific Tuesday, according to reports.
Wroe said that Kauai residents shouldn’t assume the storm will continue on to Kauai, either. The traveling weather could shift course by 200 miles in any direction, making predicting its landing spot difficult over the course of a few days.
“Right now, we typically discourage people from focusing on the exact tract of it … It’s quite a bit of time between now and then,” he said, adding that people should be prepared for harsh weather nonetheless. “We really encourage people to watch the forecast and have a plan in place.”
However, more bad weather could be behind Iselle, the Star-Advertiser reported. Another system in the Eastern Pacific could develop into a tropical depression in the next day or two, and rains, winds and muggy conditions accompany it.
For Kauai, weather forecasts predict 80 degree temperatures by the end of next week with up to an 80 percent chance of rain.
Wroe added that Iselle could also bring some big surf to Hawaii before it arrives.