‘Robust’ weather system forecast for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday filled with family, friends, food and football.

And for today, according to weather forecasters, you can expect rain, wind, cooler temperatures and the start of a northerly sea swell that will bring higher, possibly dangerous surf as the long weekend progresses.


“This is a pretty robust system dropping down across the entire island chain, working its way from the west to the east,” said Scott Rozanski, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu. “For the Big Island, what you’re going to see Thursday morning is some strong morning winds and some brief heavy rain.”

That robust system Rozanski referred to is a cold front that hit Kauai on Wednesday and worked its way over Oahu and Maui before hitting Hawaii Island.

“We’re not really looking at any flooding rains out of this whole thing. Everything will be moving pretty quick,” he said. “But there will be enough instability and moisture where you’re going to see some locally heavy rain first thing in the morning. After that, the rain should diminish, but you’ll still have the windy conditions. It should be, easily, advisory-type winds. The winds should stay through at least Thursday night, and then diminish after that.”

The forecast afternoon high today for Hilo is 73 degrees, about five degrees cooler than the previous days this week. Kona should be looking at a high of about 74 degrees.

A weather advisory issued Wednesday warned of strong northeast winds, which Rozanski described as “advisory level, between 30 and 39 miles an hour,” with gusts of 50 mph or higher.

“Winds this strong can tear off shingles, knock down tree branches, blow away tents and awnings, and make it difficult to drive, especially for drivers of high-profile vehicles. Also be prepared for power outages,” the NWS advisory stated. “Please consider moving any planned outdoor Thanksgiving events indoors, and postpone hanging outdoor holiday decorations as they may become damaged or airborne with these strong winds.”

A low-pressure system north of the islands will cause a strong sea swell that can have a “wrap-around effect” and impact island beaches in all areas of the island, according to NWS forecaster Matt Foster.

“During the day, it should be 3- to 5-feet,” Foster said. “The swell is going to be building, and I think more of the impact is going to be felt further north. We’ve got 7- to 10-feet for the afternoon with the swell almost due north, kind of north-northwest. Essentially, the whole Hamakua Coast is going to be impacted.

“Then, (tonight) into Friday is going to be kind of the peak. Right now, I’m thinking it will be either high-end advisory or low-end warning kind of surf.”

Warning-level surf is 25-foot-high waves.

“It’ll linger into Friday and the weekend, as well,” Foster said.

Hawaii County Civil Defense is advising those with shoreline property or boats from Upolu Point in North Kohala south through Hamakua and Hilo to Cape Kumukahi in Puna to secure their property.

The “Park and Ride” parking lot on Kamehameha Avenue for county bus riders is being relocated to the Kuawa Street parking lot near the intersection of Manono Avenue.

And camping permits for today at Spencer Beach Park in Kawaihae are cancelled.

In addition, county and state beach parks may be closed without notice.

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

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