Douglas intensified to a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday as it roared toward Hawaii, bringing the threat of flooding rains and damaging winds and surf this weekend.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, Douglas was located about 1,125 miles east-southeast of Hilo and packing maximum sustained winds near 130 mph with higher gusts.
The powerful storm was moving west-northwest near 18 mph.
Forecasters said Douglas will be at or near hurricane strength when it nears the state.
“Douglas is expected to move near or over portions of the Hawaiian Islands this weekend,” the National Hurricane Center said. “There is an increasing chance that strong winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning Saturday night or Sunday.”
Officials are urging Hawaii residents to prepare now for potential impacts from the storm.
“Take action now, get ready, and hopefully the track will change, but hope isn’t a plan,” said Meteorologist John Bravender, of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
“Prepare like you’ll be impacted.”
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles.
Forecasters say Douglas will follow a west-northwest track for the next few days and then turn to the west as it nears the Hawaiian Islands.
Bravender said Douglas should weaken as it moves over an area of cooler water and increasing wind shear as it approaches Hawaii.
The impacts on the state will depend on how strong the storm is as it nears the state.
“Realistically, any part of the state could be impacted by Douglas. Even a high-end tropical storm can cause significant wind damage,” said Bravender.
Forecasters said on Thursday night that Douglas had probably reached its peak intensity and was expected to begin weakening in the next day.
The first impact from the storm will be damaging surf, which could begin Saturday.
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