By Jeff King
Tropical Storm Niala has increased in strength a little as it heads closer to the Big Island. Maui County Civil Defense is following the storm’s progress and – while it appears to likely be another “near miss” this season – better safe than sorry.
At 2 p.m. HST today, the center of Tropical Storm Niala was located about 260 miles SE of Hilo (380 mile SE of Kahului), moving west at 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds increasing to 65 mph. Another 9 mph “bump” would make Niala a Category 1 hurricane. So, forecasters say that threshold will likely not be crossed.
The track forecast from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center predicts the northern periphery of Tropical Storm Niala to brush the Big Island as it travels westward this weekend. Unstable conditions ahead of the system brought heavy downpours to Lahaina, Kahalawai and Maui’s north shore earlier today prompting a flood watch between 5 and 9 a.m.
Deep tropical moisture associated with Tropical Storm Niala will likely reach parts of the main Hawaiian Islands this weekend. Swells associated with Tropical Storm Niala will produce elevated surf along east and southeast facing shores across portions of the main Hawaiian Islands, starting this weekend and continuing into early next week. Because of that, the National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory for those shores from now until Monday at 6 p.m. Waves and strong currents can be very hazardous. Please use caution if entering the water – especially if it is murky.
A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion. Wave heights of six to nine feet are possible.
The following advisories, watches and warnings currently exist:
- Small Craft Wind Advisory…all coasts and channels – through 6am Monday
- Gale Warning…Pailolo and Alenuihaha Channels
- High Surf Advisory…east shores of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Maui – through 6am Monday
- Tropical Storm Warning…offshore waters beyond 40 miles
- Tropical Storm Watch…over all of the Big Island
- Wind Advisory…smaller Hawaiian Islands
- Flash Flood Watch…for the Big Island – until Monday afternoon
For the latest radar and satellite images and loops, plus the most comprehensive commentary and coverage, check in with Maui Weather Guru, Glenn James.