Officials prepare for Darby as weakening storm approaches

  • National Weather Service map

Hurricane Darby continues to weaken and is now a Category-1 hurricane.

At 5 p.m. Hawaii time, the center of the storm was about 780 miles east of Hilo. The storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and continues to move westward at 16 mph.

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The forecast track will bring the center of Darby, or its remnant, south of the Big Island on Saturday.

Continued weakening is forecast during the next few days, with Darby expected to become a tropical storm Friday, and further weaken to a post-tropical cyclone on Saturday before dissipating.

“The impacts that we are expecting are maybe an increase in windward showers, as well as some higher seas,” said Thomas Vaughan, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

Authorities are taking no chances, and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center at 8 a.m. Thursday to monitor Hurricane Darby after the weakening storm system crossed into the Central Pacific basin.

The activation to Level 3, one step above normal operations, provides additional resources to plan for potential impacts and coordinate with Hawaii’s counties and other partners if they need support to cope with any consequences from the storm.

“While the National Weather Service expects Darby to weaken and pass to our south this weekend, the remains of the tropical system could still bring several inches of rain and locally strong winds to the Big Island and Maui by Saturday,” said HI-EMA Administrator Luke Meyers. “When you combine those potential impacts with the high surf we expect this weekend, we want to make sure we’re ready for anything, just in case.”

Starting Friday, the National Weather Service anticipates 15- to 20-waves from a swell separate from the storm coming from the southern hemisphere and might issue a high surf warning for south facing shores of Hawaii Island through Saturday.

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

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