Watch Now

Major Hurricane Douglas still eyeing Hawaii

Photo: NOAA

Updated Friday, July 24 at 10:30 p.m. EDT to reflect changes in the U.S. Coast Guard port conditions which they revised earlier the same evening.

Hurricane Douglas, now a major Category 3 hurricane, is getting closer to the Hawaiian Islands. Landfall is likely this weekend.

As of 11 a.m. EDT Friday, 5 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST) Douglas was packing sustained winds of 120 mph, down from 135 (Category 4) mph earlier in the day. Hurricane force winds extend up to 25 miles from the eye of the storm, and tropical storm force winds extend up to 115 miles from the eye. Gradual weakening is expected to continue through the weekend. 

SONAR Critical Events and satellite: Friday, July 24, 2020; Major Hurricane Douglas forecast paths.

Douglas is still forecast to be near hurricane strength, as a Category 1 storm or a high-end tropical storm, as it approaches the eastern end of the Hawaiian Island chain late Saturday night or Sunday. The precise point of landfall is still difficult to pinpoint, but the latest outlook from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) places it just north of Honolulu, on the island of O’ahu, Sunday afternoon or evening local time.

Prior to the potential landfall, Douglas will produce high winds and heavy rainfall on the islands of Maui, Lanai, Moloka’i and possibly the main Island of Hawaii.

Strong winds associated with Douglas could begin impacting portions of the Hawaiian Islands as early as late Saturday night or Sunday, with impacts lasting through Monday. The NHC will probably issue tropical storm or hurricane watches sometime Friday afternoon HST. Spotty to scattered power outages are possible due to downed trees and utility lines.

Heavy rainfall from Douglas will drench portions of the Hawaiian Islands from late Saturday night through Monday. Total amounts of 6 to 10 inches are possible, with isolated maximum totals of 15 inches, especially across higher terrain. This rain may cause life-threatening flash flooding and landslides.

Large swells generated by Douglas will generate large swells and dangerous waves beginning Saturday. These swells may cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.

Douglas could significantly delay local supply chains and business operations, as well as air cargo to and from some of the state’s airports.

According to a Friday evening news release, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued the port condition X-RAY for Hawaii and Maui counties and Honolulu counties, and Port condition WHISKEY was set for Kauai County.

At port condition X-RAY, gale force winds of 39 mph are predicted to arrive within 48 hours. During port condition WHISKEY, gale force winds of 39 mph are predicted to arrive within 72 hours. Vessels that desire to remain in port must submit a safe mooring plan in writing to the captain of the port (COTP) and Department of Transportation Harbors Division (DOTH) and receive permission to remain in port.

All ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges that have not been granted permission from the COTP and DOTH must make plans for departure. Vessels will be required to complete cargo operations and depart the port within 60 hours for WHISKEY and 36 hours for X-RAY.

The USCG also urged everyone in the potential impact zone to stay clear of beaches, be prepared and stay informed through local television and radio.

Because Hawaii is such a small target in a very large ocean, hurricanes have made landfall there only twice since 1959. The latest was Hurricane Iniki in September 1992, a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph that killed six people.

More adjustments to the forecast of Hurricane Douglas are likely. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.