Fernanda is lurking

LIHUE — Swells could reach 8 feet on the Eastside today as the initial impacts of Hurricane Fernanda begin to reach Kauai.

It’s the first hurricane of the season set to cross into the Central Pacific basin, which is expected to happen Thursday. The storm is forecasted to gradually weaken over the next few days, bringing some extra rainfall to the islands over the weekend.

“This is our reminder that it’s hurricane season through Nov. 30,” said Maureen Ballard, forecaster with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “It could still happen, so make sure everyone gets prepared.”

On Monday, the storm was about 1,900 miles east/southeast of Kauai and was classified as a category three hurricane, moving west/northwest at around 9 miles per hour.

“It is now closer to us than Vegas, but just by a little bit,” Ballard said.

And while forecasters are keeping their eyes on the skies this week, they’re also keeping tabs on the ocean’s King Tides — set to reach peak height on Saturday.

“We do have some larger tides coming in and they are going to be coming up over the next couple of days,” Ballard said. “The earliest we’d see these impacts is Wednesday.”

Tides will be peaking on Kauai between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., according to data gathered from Port Allen by forecasters.

In May, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted five to eight cyclones would be generated in the Central Pacific in the 2017 season.

Seven were predicted in the 2016 season and six appeared, according to NOAA, which forecasters say is slightly above the average for the season.

In 2015, NOAA recorded 16 tropical cyclones, and in 2014 the number was five.

As Hurricane Fernanda signals the beginning of the 2017 hurricane season in Hawaii, many people in the archipelago and on Kauai are looking to the past.

“This 2017 hurricane season marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Iniki, which brought life-changing impacts that have lasted more than a generation,” said Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center in a news release.

Forecasters urge residents to use Fernanda’s approach as encouragement to get prepared in the event a hurricane makes landfall.

A disaster supply kit, a generator, first aid supplies, and extra food and water are just a few of the things that NWS recommends having in order to be prepared.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, go to www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

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