The center of Hurricane Hector, a category 4 storm, is expected to pass within 100 to 150 miles south of the Big Island today, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
“The effects of a hurricane are far-reaching and can extend well away from the center,” NWS reported. “Tropical storm force winds and locally damaging gusts are expected downslope from mountains, across elevated terrain, over headlands, and through gaps.”
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said late Tuesday Hector was about 360 miles southeast of Hilo moving west at 16 mph. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Hawaii County.
Surf along east facing shores was building and was expected to peak Tuesday night and into early today at 12 to 15 feet for the Big Island and 6 to 10 feet for Maui County.
Rain bands in the northern fringe of Hurricane Hector will affect the Puna, Kau, North Hilo, and South Hilo Districts of the Big Island as the tropical cyclone passes south of the state on Wednesday and Thursday, NWS said. Rain showers may be locally heavy at times, particularly over east to southeast facing slopes.
AccuWeather meteorologists also expected Hector to pass well south of Hawaii, including the Big Island.
Despite Hector’s southern track late Tuesday, it was expected to have “significant impact related to heavy seas and surf is likely in many of the islands,” AccuWeather reported.
“Hector is expected to pass far enough to the south so that no important wind issues are expected to impact the Big Island,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
The hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph with stronger gusts possible. NWS forecasters expect the storm to lose strength over the next two days.
Hurricane-force winds extend about 30 miles from Hector’s center and tropical storm-force winds can reach up to 90 miles from the eye.
Hawaii County officials are urging residents to secure loose items and be prepared for changing conditions.
The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife closed the Waimanu valley campground and Ainapo cabin Tuesday through today, for public safety due to the approach of Hurricane Hector. There may be flooding risk at Waimanu due to possible effects of a king tide, storm surge and heavy rainfall. Ainapo may face possible impacts due to tropical strength winds and rainfall, DLNR said.
The two locations will reopen Thursday, following assessment by forestry staff.
AccuWeather reported that Hector may remain as a hurricane well west of Hawaii.
“There is a reasonable chance that Hector will survive to cross the International Date Line early next week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis. “If it does, it will become Typhoon Hector.”
The last hurricane to cross the International Date Line become a typhoon was Genevieve in 2014, AccuWeather said.