HONOLULU — Hurricane Guillermo is expected to weaken as it approaches Hawaii later this week, but forecasters say it will still bring life-threatening high surf.
Hurricane Guillermo weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds on Sunday and began a turn to the northwest on a track to pass near or over the Hawaiian islands this week as a tropical storm, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Forecasters say the surf on the eastern shores of Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Maui will become life-threatening today. The shores are under a high-surf advisory from noon Sunday through 6 p.m. Thursday.
The National Weather Service said the week’s forecast will be highly dependent on Guillermo’s path, but the islands can expect rain Tuesday night through Thursday night. Rains could be heavy enough to cause flooding.
“I would encourage people now to pick up some extra water, nonperishable goods, some things you would need in case the system is stronger than what is currently anticipated,” said Jon Jelsema, a senior forecaster with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt to have preparations in place. … If it’s going to make a direct impact, there’s going to be stuff flying off the shelves and it might be too late,” he said. “Even if you don’t use the supplies, it’s a long hurricane season.”
At 5 p.m. Sunday, Guillermo was 725 miles east-southeast of Hilo moving west-northwest at 10 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles from the storm’s center while tropical storm-force winds extend 140 mph. Wind shear tearing at the storm began to weaken it and slow its progress Sunday, but it is still expected to have winds greater than 40 mph when it makes landfall or passes close to Hawaii later this week.
The latest track has the storm passing just north of the Big Island on Wednesday, possibly hitting Maui County and the tip of Oahu. However, the entire island chain is within the forecast’s so-called “cone of uncertainty.”
“It is important for those in the main Hawaiian islands not to focus too closely on the exact forecast track of the center of any tropical cyclone, including Guillermo,” forecasters said. “It is still too soon to determine with any certainty which islands would most likely experience the greatest impacts from Guillermo. It is also important to note that significant impacts from tropical cyclones can extend well away from the center.”
“It’s important for everyone to take advantage of the lead time we have ahead of this storm to make their preparations. Tropical cyclones bring a triple threat of wind, heavy rains and battering surf and we need to prepare for any impacts that may occur,” Maui County Emergency Management Officer Anna Foust said in a news release. “Secure or move inside any loose objects that may become airborne. Clean out gutters and other drainage ways that may become clogged with debris and exacerbate flooding. Stock up on your emergency kit supplies and be prepared for possible power outages.”
Moderate to strong tradewinds will continue through today, then weaken by Tuesday as Guillermo disrupts the flow, the National Weather Service said. Showers will increase as remnant moisture associated with former Tropical Depression 8E moves over the islands Sunday, with best chances of rain over windward and southeastern portions of Hawaii Island.
Crews 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.
Flying aboard Lockheed-Martin WC-130J aircraft specially designed to withstand the rigors of hurricane conditions.
A second hurricane hunter plane was scheduled to fly through the storm on its way to Hawaii Sunday afternoon and another mission was planned for Sunday night.
Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30 in the north Pacific. The Center said in May that this season could be busier than normal, with five to eight storms instead of the typical four or five.