Wet weekend predicted; Kiko is expected to temporarily strengthen

It’s looking like a wet weekend for East Hawaii.

Skies darkened by rain clouds with some showers settled over Hilo town late this afternoon. The forecast on the National Weather Service website said there is an 80 percent of showers tonight, 50 percent tomorrow, and 70 percent for the remainder of the weekend and beyond.

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“What’s happening right now is … an upper-level disturbance. It’s causing the air mass to be a little bit more unstable … with higher moisture in the tradewinds,” Gavin Shigesato, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said late this afternoon. He said the rain is the product of “enhanced moisture that’s picking up through the tradewinds that’s coming up from the south of us.”

As of late Friday afternoon, two low-pressure disturbances continued to lurk in the Central Pacific basin, one about 500 miles south of Honolulu, the other, about 1,000 miles southeast of the Big Island. Forecasters said chances of either organizing into a tropical cyclone are low — 10 percent within 40 hours and 20 percent within five days.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Kiko is finally starting to strengthen.

As of 5 p.m. today, the center of the storm was about 575 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Maximum sustained winds are about 50 mph, and the storm is moving west-northwest 9 mph. A west-northwesterly or westerly motion at a similar forward speed is expected through early next week.

Kiko is expected to strengthen somewhat during the next couple of days, and is expected to be at or near hurricane strength by the end of the weekend.

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

Kiko is expected to weaken back to tropical storm status and should continue weakening into a tropical depression before crossing into the Central Pacific.

“What we’re looking at right now is that it’s going to be weakening pretty quickly before it even enters our basin. By the time it weakens, we shouldn’t even see any effects. It’s pretty much negligible,” Shigesato said.

There is what forecasters at Miami’s National Hurricane Center is describing as “a broad trough of low pressure” several hundred miles southwest of the southern coast of Mexico. Forecasters say gradual development of this system is possible and a tropical depression could form early next week while the system moves slowly westward or west-northwestward well off the southwestern coast of Mexico. Chances of formation into a tropical cyclone are rated as about 10 percent over the next 48 hours and 50 percent in a five-day period.

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There’s also an area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms about 1600 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. Little or no development is expected with forecasters giving it a 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next five days.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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