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Hurricane Hector to stir dangerous surf in Hawaii this week

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
August 10, 2018, 12:12:31 PM EDT

Powerful Hurricane Hector passes well south of Hawaii

As AccuWeather meteorologists predicted, Major Hurricane Hector, a Category 4 storm as of Thursday local time, passed well south of Hawaii, including the Big Island, at midweek.

Static Hector 10 am

Hurricanes that track in from the east and close by to Hawaii typically encounter cooler waters and weaken before reaching the islands. The most destructive hurricanes to hit Hawaii, such as Iniki in 1992, have typically approached the islands from the south.

However, Hector tracked through a stream of very warm water well to the south of the islands.

Could Hector become a typhoon?

Hector may remain a hurricane for days as it travels 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."

Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are essentially the same type of intense tropical systems. The name is just a matter of formality depending on which basin the storm is located in, such as the Atlantic and eastern Pacific versus the western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Despite Hector's southern track, impacts to continue in Hawaii

A significant impact related to heavy seas and surf is occurring on many of the islands. Residents and tourists may notice a change in the weather into the end of the week.

High level clouds from the distant storm spread over the sky across much of the islands on Wednesday. These clouds will continue to dim and block the sun at times into Friday.

"Hector passed far enough to the south so that no important wind issues impacted the Big Island," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

"However, very rough surf is expected to impact mostly south- and east-facing coastal areas of the Big Island," Kottlowski said. "There will also be locally rough surf over the rest of the Hawaiian Islands through Friday."

Swimming and boating will be dangerous, and it will be important to heed local warnings, advisories and beach postings.

In lieu of tropical storms, near-shore waves on the south-facing shores of the islands tend to average 2-3 feet.

"Near-shore frequent waves along the south- and east-facing coastal areas are likely to frequent 6-10 feet with occasional higher waves into Friday," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"Because of the south to north motion of the swells, the surf conditions will be unusually rough on the south-facing shorelines of the islands as Hector passes by," Sosnowski said.

Offshore to the south, hurricane conditions are expected with frequent waves of 10-16 feet with occasional higher waves topping 20 feet.

"Wave conditions in the north-south channels between all of the islands in the Hawaiian chain are likely to remain rough into Friday," Sosnowski added.

Dangerous surf may occur around much of the islands through Friday.

Travel by boat will be impacted, potentially spoiling vacation plans and perhaps limiting inter-island travel for a time.

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Southeastern areas of the Big Island have been devastated by the eruption of the Kīlauea Volcano and the lava flows that followed, but minimal added hazards are forecast due to Hector through Friday.

Hector’s winds will whisk vog and laze toward the southern tip of the island and then out to sea.

By the time the weekend rolls around, Hector’s impacts on Hawaii are expected to be over.

Elsewhere in the eastern Pacific, tropical systems John and Kristy are spinning well to the west of Mexico.

AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on Hector and other tropical activity around the globe. Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert on weather hazards for your area.

el nino reshapes the weather

With the potential for an El Niño developing into this autumn, warmer-than-average water temperatures over the tropical Pacific could result in more threats than normal for the Hawaiian Islands.

On average, there are approximately five tropical systems per year over the central Pacific basin.

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