Hurricane Norman expected to head north, miss Hawaii

HILO — Hurricane Norman, which has weakened from a major hurricane to a Category 1 cyclone, is still headed west toward the Big Island, but forecasters predict the path will veer north and miss the islands.

Deanna Marks, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Hilo, told county department heads and emergency responders in a Tuesday morning briefing at Civil Defense headquarters the storm “looks like it will start to turn toward the west-northwest, and then by Thursday, it will make that northwesterly turn.”

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Marks said there will be “little change in the intensity” of the storm over the next day.

“It’ll pretty much remain as strong as it is, without any weakening or strengthening,” she said.

Marks added that Norman should weaken rapidly on Thursday as it begins to “enter an area of high (wind) shear, dry air, as well as cooler waters.”

A high surf advisory was posted at noon Tuesday for the eastern shores of the Big Island.

Marks said surf should peak at “about 14 feet.”

“There could be a couple of higher sets for the east-facing shores,” she said. “This is going to last through Thursday and into Friday morning.”

According to Marks, Norman — unlike Lane, which dumped upwards of 50 inches of rain on portions of East Hawaii — shouldn’t bring an appreciable amount of rainfall to the Big Island.

“We are not expecting that much rainfall with this hurricane, mainly because we don’t have those large cloud bands that are going to affect the islands,” she said. “It’s looking like it’s going to pass far enough north that those bands are not really going to affect us that much. So any rainfall that we get will likely be from residual tropical moisture that’s brought into the area.”

“As far as winds go, it’s an interesting situation,” Marks added. “Because it’s looking like we may actually decrease and go into still wind conditions. And the reason for that is … Hurricane Norman is passing between us and the tradewind source. So as it moves to our northwest, it’s going to cut off any tradewinds that we have been seeing, so that may leave us with essentially no winds and very muggy, kind of sticky … conditions.”

She noted that any deviation by Norman to a more westerly direction than the forecast track could change the forecast.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Norman was 620 miles east of Hilo, packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph and moving to the west at 12 mph.

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In addition, forecasters are keeping an eye on Hurricane Olivia, a Category 3 hurricane in the Eastern Pacific.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Olivia was 2,300 miles east of Hilo.

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