Douglas Becomes the First Eastern Pacific Hurricane of the Year; Tropical Cyclone Threat Increasing for the Hawaiian Islands


After briefly remaining stagnant Tuesday evening, Tropical Storm Douglas has strengthened quite rapidly today and is now a Category 1 hurricane. Douglas is the fourth tropical storm and the first hurricane of the 2020 Northeastern Pacific hurricane season, and marks one of the latest dates on record for the formation of the first Northeastern Pacific hurricane in a calendar year. Environmental conditions are conducive for further intensification, and there is considerable likelihood that the system could undergo rapid intensification, if it is not doing so already. Although currently well out at sea, Douglas is expected to approach the Hawaiian islands early next week, and the threat from Douglas in those islands is increasing.

Hurricane Douglas: Latest Storm Information

The National Hurricane Center’s 5-day forecast track and cone of uncertainty for Tropical Storm Fay as of Advisory Number 10 at 21:00 UTC July 22.

As of the National Hurricane Center’s most recent advisory on Douglas at 11:00 AM HST (21:00 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Douglas was located near 12.1°N, 130.9°W, about 1570 mi (2525 km) west-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, and about 1690 mi (2715 km) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph (130 km/h) with gusts to 100 mph (155 km/h), and the minimum central pressure is 989 mb (29.21 inches). Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 mi (165 km) from the center, and hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 10 mi (20 km) from the center. Douglas is moving toward the west at around 16 mph (26 km/h), and a turn to the west-northwest this evening, followed by a west-northwestward motion at a faster forward speed is expected through the weekend. On the NHC’s forecast track, the center of Douglas is forecast to move very close to, or over, the island of Hawai’i on Sunday. Douglas is forecast to continue strengthening, perhaps rapidly, through Friday, and could become a Category 3 major hurricane by that time. Afterward, cooler waters are expected to induce a gradual weakening Friday evening, followed by a more rapid weakening on Sunday. However, it is becoming more likely that Douglas could still be a hurricane by the time it reaches the Hawaiian islands.

Forecast Track, Intensity Guidance, and Hazards Affecting Land

Key messages for Hurricane Douglas from the National Hurricane Center

Douglas is expected to maintain a generally west-northwestward motion over the next few days, becoming more westerly over the weekend. During the next couple of days, environmental conditions are expected to remain quite conducive for additional intensification, and there is an increasing likelihood of rapid intensification occurring. The SHIPS, HCCA, and Florida State Superensemble all bring Douglas to major hurricane (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale) status in the next 24 to 36 hours. The NHC forecast lies near the upper end of the dynamical model guidance owing to the favorable environment, and brings Douglas to Category 3 status with an intensity of 115 mph (185 km/h) in 24 hours. The current forecast track will bring the center of Douglas near the Hawaiian islands Sunday evening into Monday, and there is an increasing likelihood that Douglas could retain hurricane status near the islands, although it is very likely that it will have weakened by then.

While it is still too soon to determine the magnitude of Douglas’ impact on the Hawaiian islands, residents and other interests on the Hawaiian islands should closely monitor the progress of Douglas over the next few days. Douglas is expected to move close to the Hawaiian islands early next week, and there is an increasing chance that strong winds and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the Hawaiian islands starting Sunday evening. Please refer to the National Hurricane Center and your local National Weather Service for further information regarding Hurricane Douglas.

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