Guillermo weakens to tropical storm

LIHIUE — Once a hurricane, Guillermo was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday and is gradually weakening.

It is expected to skid north of the islands starting midweek, meteorologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

“If it follows the track exactly — which seldom happens — the system will move north of the islands,” NOAA Meteorologist Pete Donaldson said Monday. “It will be passing by the Big Island by Wednesday, by Oahu on Thursday and somewhere off the north of Kauai on Friday.”

Although the storm is weakening, Kauai Red Cross officials said, the public should continue to be on standby and be prepared for future threats.

“What we’re doing is going through the (emergency) checklist, make sure everything is up-to-date and that everybody knows what they’re doing,” said Padraic Gallagher, Red Cross Kauai director of disaster services. “If this happens again, we’re even better prepared.”

Gallagher said with the majority of schools back in session, the Red Cross wants to get the word out to parents.

“If your kids are in school, what’s your plan going to be?” he said.

Elton Ushio, Kauai Civil Defense manager, said visitors should check with their hotel or management company regarding storm preparations.

“Anyone who is planning to hike or camp this week should check with the respective county or state office regarding possible closures,” Ushio wrote in an email.

Current maximum winds in the system were around 65 mph as of 5 p.m. Monday, and it was 815 miles east-southeast of Lihue. Guillermo is moving in a northwesterly direction at 10 mph.

Hawaii County and Maui County are under tropical storm watch, according to NOAA. Tropical storm conditions are possible within those areas within 48 hours.

“The strongest impacts will probably be by the Big Island and then getting less as it moves up to Kauai,” Donaldson said. “Right now, odds are it’s not going to have a major impact on Kauai as far as winds go. As far as so much rain you guys might get up there, (but) that’s still pretty uncertain.”

Donaldson said if NOAA’s forecast is correct, Guillermo will weaken to a tropical depression (winds less than 39 mph) by Friday.

“As the system weakens, by Friday the strongest winds in the system will be 30 knots (about 34 mph),” he said.

According to NOAA forecast, large swells traveling ahead of the system will spread from east to west over the islands through midweek. The swells will produce large and potentially life threatening surf along east-facing shores.

A high surf advisory is in effect for east-facing shores through 6 tonight.

In May, officials predicted there would be more hurricanes than average in the Pacific this year because of warmer ocean water.


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