National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Douglas Heads for Hawaii; Hurricane Warning Issued as Hanna Approaches Texas

Hurricane Douglas is set to arrive in Hawaii this weekend

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The first hurricane to threaten the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is presenting new challenges to Hawaii officials long accustomed to tropical storms.

For example, how do you secure enough shelter space when people have to stay at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart from one another? What happens when someone shows up at a shelter with a fever?

Late Friday, Hurricane Douglas was 665 miles (1,070 kilometers) southeast of Hilo. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph), making it a Category 3 hurricane.

It’s expected to weaken as it passes over cooler water. But meteorologists warn strong winds, heavy rainfall and dangerous surf could afflict the entire state beginning Saturday night.

Douglas is expected to be near-hurricane strength when it gets closer to the islands.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for both Big Island, Oahu and Maui County, meaning hurricane conditions are possible in those areas within the next 36 to 48 hours.

The storm approaches as Hawaii grapples with increasing COVID-19 numbers. On Friday, the state reported 60 newly confirmed cases, it's highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Hanna is nearly hurricane strength as the system moves toward the Texas coast, and is expected to bring heavy rain, storm surge and possible tornadoes, all while another tropical storm approaches the Caribbean.

Maximum sustained winds increased to 70 mph (110 kph) Saturday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a Saturday morning update on Hanna. The storm was centered about 115 miles (180 kilometers) east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas and was moving west at 9 mph (15 kph).

A storm surge warning in effect from Baffin Bay to Sargent was extended south of the bay to Port Mansfield, Texas. Storm surge up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) was forecast for that area. People were advised to protect life and property from high water.

Tornadoes were also possible Saturday for parts of the lower to middle Texas coastal plain, forecasters said. A hurricane warning remained in effect for Port Mansfield to Mesquite Bay, and a tropical storm warning was still in effect from Barra el Mezquital, Mexico, to Port Mansfield, Texas, and from Mesquite Bay to High Island, Texas.

Forecasters increased rainfall expectations, saying Hanna could bring 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain through Sunday night — with isolated totals of 18 inches (46 centimeters) — in addition to coastal swells that could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was still on track to move across the southern Windward Islands on Saturday afternoon or evening. Gonzalo was moving west near 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph (65 kph), the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning.

Gonzalo is forecast to bring 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 centimeters) of rain, with isolated totals of 5 inches (13 centimeters). A tropical storm warning remained for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tobago and Grenada and its dependencies. The storm was expected to dissipate by Sunday night or Monday, forecasters said.

Gonzalo and Hanna broke the record for the earliest seventh and eighth Atlantic named storms, respectively, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous records were Gert on July 24, 2005, and Harvey on Aug. 3, 2005, Klotzbach said.

When it comes to hurricanes, there's more to them than meets the eye. Here's where the word "hurricane" comes from and how these powerful storms are different (or not) from cyclones.
Staff, AP
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