By Jeff King
Tropical Storm Flossie is still developing in strength in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Flossie is expected to cross 140°W into the Central Pacific Hurricane Center area of responsibility on Saturday.
At 5 a.m. today HST, Flossie was located 1,610 miles ESE of Kahului – moving WNW as a tropical storm.
Tropical Storm Flossie, the sixth named storm of the 2013 eastern Pacific hurricane season, formed just over 1000 miles west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California Wednesday. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because Flossie has visited Hawai’i before. In August, 2007, the remnants of Hurricane Flossie brought squalls, downpours and high winds to Hawai’i. The storm actually traversed half the globe to get here – originating off the African coast in the summer of 2007.
Flossie will continue tracking west-northwest over the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, before turning toward the west later this weekend.
As you can see below, the forecast path includes parts of the Hawaiian Islands early next week (Monday/Tuesday).
However, drier air, increased wind shear, and somewhat cooler water is expected to begin weakening of Flossie beginning this weekend.
The bottom line is that Flossie is expected to be only a weak tropical storm, tropical depression, or remnant by the time it reaches the Hawaiian Islands Monday and Tuesday.
This means perhaps an increase in showers, including typical leeward locations, higher swells reaching east-facing shores, and an attendant threat of rip currents.
It’s worth noting of 19 named storms that have tracked near the Hawaiian Islands since 1957:
- Only four remained at hurricane strength within 65 nautical miles, most notably Iniki (1992).
- Three of those four hurricanes approached the islands from the south or southeast.
- Only Kanoa (1957) was able to survive as a hurricane pushing due westward at a latitude equal or as far north as the Big Island. (Though, according to NHC’s best track database, it never made it as a hurricane to the Big Island.)
- The large majority of those named storms had weakened to either a tropical storm, depression or remnant low when approaching the islands from the east, at a latitude at least as far north as the Big Island.
- The last time Maui was directly hit by a hurricane was near Lahaina in 1853 – before official record keeping began.
While Flossie is expected to weaken substantially, it will be a good test of the county’s emergency capabilities. It’s also an excellent to update your home “survival kit,” and family escape plan.
Maui TV News will continue to track and update the status, location and potential threat of Flossie.