HONOLULU – Even as a months-long volcanic eruption goes on, Hawaii is now on alert for a dangerous hurricane forecast to pass south of the islands at midweek.
As of 5 p.m. Sunday local time (11 p.m. ET) Hurricane Hector was about to cross into the Central Pacific Basin as a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.
Hector was about 1,130 miles (1,820 km) east-southeast of South Point Hawaii and traveling west at 14 mph (22 km/h), with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/h), it said.
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect but the center said the Hawaiian Islands should monitor the hurricane’s progress.
“While the official forecast track continues to lie south of the Hawaiian Islands, only a slight deviation to the north of the forecast track would significantly increase potential impacts on the Hawaiian Islands. Now is a good time for everyone in the Hawaiian Islands to ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place,” it said.
“Dangerous Hurricane Hector, a category 4 storm with 140 mph winds is expected to track west and pass south of the Big Island of Hawaii midweek. Gusty winds, rough surf, coastal flooding, and rip currents can be expected,” the NWS said on Twitter.
Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim said the area was preparing for Hector’s arrival, with a briefing held Sunday at the Civil Defense Agency’s Emergency Operations Center.
“Civil Defense will keep the community informed through regular updates. We continue 24-hour operation to monitor the eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone and the hurricane,” Kim’s office said in a statement, referring to both the storm and the erupting Kilauea volcano.
State officials urged residents to take precaution and prepare for the storm.
“Hector is our first hurricane this year. We want to remind the public we are in the middle of the hurricane season and we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide,” said Tom Travis, the state’s emergency management administrator.
Hawaii Island eruption
The Hawaiian Islands include Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the island of Hawaii, which is often referred to as the Big Island. The Big Island has been coping with three months of Kilauea’s volcanic eruptions that have sent lava flowing into some neighborhoods.
CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said while Hector is heading in Big Island ‘s general direction, it’s too early to tell if it’s on a collision course with the volcano.
“The track of the hurricane still has the center passing well south of the main Hawaiian island at this time,” Brink said Sunday morning. “It is still too soon to tell what effects this hurricane will have (if any) on the Hawaii islands.”
While the latest eruptions started in May, the volcano has spewed lava since the 1980s, becoming a major tourist destination even as it threatened nearby residents.
The eruptions have displaced thousands of residents, damaged roads and destroyed hundreds of homes.