TS Flossie weakening but still approaching; Erick downgraded to tropical depression

  • This Central Pacific Hurricane Center map shows the 5-day forecast track for Tropical Storm Flossie
  • This National Hurricane Center map shows the 5-day forecast track for Tropical Storm Gil.

UPDATE 5 p.m.:

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has posed a high surf warning for the north-, east- and south-facing shores of Hawaii Island and windward shores of Maui as the islands brace for the arrival of Tropical Storm Flossie.

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The warning is in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.

According to forecasters, surf heights are expected to rise to between 8 and 12 feet tonight and between 10 and 15 feet on Monday.

Flossie continues to weaken as the cyclone continues to approach the islands. As of 5 p.m. today, the center of Flossie was about 620 miles east of Hilo.

Maximum sustained winds are at 45 mph with higher gusts. The storm is moving west at 13 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center.

Weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Flossie is expected to become a tropical depression Sunday night.

The Bayfront parking lot in downtown Hilo remains closed, including the Mooheau bus terminal. The county’s Hele On bus will continue to pick up and drop off passengers behind Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium on Manono Street in Hilo until further notice.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said at about 4:30 p.m. today there are no closures of roads or parking lots because of Flossie. An official said an evaluation would be made Sunday about any potential closures due to weather or surf.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Gil has shown little change since its recent upgrade. As of 5 p.m. today, the center of Gil was situated about 2,095 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 1,050 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph with higher gusts and the storm is moving west at 12 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center.

A gradual weakening trend is expected to begin by late Sunday, and Gil is expected to dissipate by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Erick has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression as it continues to move away from the islands.

At 5 p.m. Erick was about 530 miles west-southwest of Honolulu with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. The storm continues to move to the west-northwest at 14 mph.

Erick is expected to continue weakening and become a post-tropical cyclone on Sunday, then dissipate on Monday.

UPDATE 11 a.m.

Tropical Storm Flossie is weakening as it continues to approach Hawaii Island — and there’s a new tropical storm in the Eastern Pacific named Gil.

As of 11 a.m. today, the center of Flossie was about 695 miles east of Hilo. Flossie was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and moving to the west-northwest at 13 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center.

Weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Flossie is expected to become a tropical depression Sunday.

The “cone of uncertainty,” however, brings the center of the storm uncomfortably close to the northeastern end of Hawaii Island on Monday and possibly hitting Maui and Molokai and grazing Oahu.

Despite the prior forecast from the National Hurricane Center predicting Tropical Depression Eight-E was forecast to dissipate, it has now become Tropical Storm Gil.

At 11 a.m. today, Gil was still far away in the Eastern Pacific, about 2,175 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 980 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The newly-minted tropical storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the cyclone’s center.

Little change in strength is forecast during the next day or so. Gradual weakening is anticipated by early next week, and Gil is expected to dissipate by Tuesday, forecasters said.

As of 11 a.m. today, Erick remained a tropical storm as it continued to careen away from the islands.

The storm’s center about 480 miles southwest of Honolulu. Maximum sustained winds were 40 mph and Erick was moving to the west at 13 mph.

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Tropical Storm Flossie is, in the words of forecasters “floundering forward” — but the forecast track indicates the storm still poses a threat to Hawaii Island.

As of 5 a.m. today, the center of Flossie was 760 miles east of Hilo. The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 60 mph with higher gusts, moving to the west-northwest at 14 mph.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the center.

The forecast track is expected to continue for the next couple of days, forecasters said, and the storm is expected to gradually weaken over that period.

Swells generated by Flossie will affect portions of the Hawaiian Islands over the next couple of days, potentially producing dangerous surf conditions, mainly along east and southeast facing shores.

If Flossie maintains its current forecast track, it will come closest to the Big Island sometime Monday.

There are currently no watches or warnings in effect for the Big Island.

Meanwhile, Erick was barely hanging on to tropical storm status as of 5 a.m. today, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. But with the center of the cyclone situated about 430 miles southwest of Honolulu and the storm moving west at 14 mph, Erick no longer poses any threat to the Big Island.

There is also a tropical depression in the Eastern Pacific.

At 5 a.m. today, Tropical Depression Eight-E was about 930 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and 2,255 miles east-southeast of Hilo.

The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, just below tropical-storm strength, and moving west-northwest at 10 mph.

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The National Hurricane Center in Miami forecasts gradual weakinging of Eight-E over the next day or two and for it to dissipate into a remnant low-pressure system by early Monday.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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