Hurricane Hector expected to pass south of Hawaii island
Ocean advisories, hurricane warnings remain in effect
The center of Hurricane Hector was expected to pass within 100 to 150 miles south of the Big Island today with marine warnings posted — including a high-surf advisory for east-facing shores of Maui, the National Weather Service reported at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hector remained a Category 4 hurricane packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and moving west at 16 mph at 5 p.m. Tuesday. It was 480 miles southeast of Kahului, the weather service said.
Watches and warnings posted include a high-surf advisory for east-facing shores of Maui until 6 p.m. today. The swell generated by Hector was expected to drive surf to 6 to 10 feet Tuesday night into early today. Strong breaking waves and shore break and rip currents are forecast.
A hurricane warning has been issued for waters off the Hawaiian Islands from 46 to 276 miles, including a portion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Hurricane conditions are expected in these waters Tuesday night and Wednesday, the weather service said.
A gale warning was to replace a small-craft warning at midnight Tuesday for Maalaea Bay, the Pailolo Channel between Maui and Molokai and the Alenuihaha Channel between Maui and the Big Island. Seas are expected to be 7 to 12 feet with northeast winds of 23 to 35 mph after midnight. The gale warning is in effect until 6 p.m. today.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for parts of the Big Island. The northern fringe of Hector will affect Puna, Kau and the Hilo areas, which are expected to be drenched by rain.
The Coast Guard set port condition “Yankee” for the Big Island at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The condition means that gale force wind conditions are expected within 24 hours. Ports are closed to inbound traffic and vessel control measures are in effect on movements within the port.
Maui County ports were on “Whiskey” condition. This is an alert condition in which winds above 39 mph are expected within 72 hours.
Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port Honolulu, said that all pleasure craft should seek sheltered waters and all oceangoing vessels and barges 200 gross tons or more, without an approved application to remain in port, should make preparations to depart port before the setting of port condition “Zulu,” a danger condition where all ports close.
“The residents of the main Hawaiian Islands are dependent on the ports,” said Long on Tuesday. “I am committed to ensuring the safety of commerce and seeing the ports return to our seasonal readiness status as soon as is practical to do so.”
He advised people to stay off the water and clear of beaches, noting that Coast Guard rescue capabilities degrade in heavy storm conditions.
Elsewhere in the state, little to no impact is anticipated, the weather service said in a statement earlier Tuesday. It added that impacts of Hector are dependent on the actual track of the storm.
The forecast for Maui through Thursday is breezy and mostly cloudy with scattered showers over windward areas. High temperatures will range from 86 to 91 degrees with lows from 73 to 78 degrees. Northeast winds are expected to blow 15 to 25 mph.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency continues to monitor the hurricane. Hawaii residents and visitors are asked to take the following precautions:
• Continue to follow local reports for the latest information on Hector.
• Be aware of flood safety recommendations; tips can be found at floodsmart.gov.
• Listen to ocean safety officials and exercise caution if entering the water as high surf messages are issued.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.