Hawaii’s Big Island will be hit by two of Mother Nature’s most potentially devastating forces – a major hurricane and an erupting volcano – next week as Hurricane Hector is expected to make a close encounter.
Hurricane Hector is currently forming in the Pacific some 1,700 miles (2,760 km) east of Big Island.
But the swirling vortex is expected to grow into a “major hurricane” on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds that could reach at least 111 miles per hour (179 km per hour).
Storms of that strength, classified as a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, are considered capable of causing devastating damage to populated areas.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Hector was classified as a Category 2 with winds of up to 105 mph (169 kph) on Friday but has since upgraded the rating.
And the storm is currently on a trajectory that could brush the southern coast of the Big Island late on Wednesday morning.
Here is the latest path and tracking news on Hurricane Hector. All times in BST.
2.37pm update: Weakening may occur before landfall
The warm waters and low wind shear could intensify Hector even more in the short-term after the storm was upped to a category 3 last night.
But in the long term, weakening is expected and Hector may hit Hawaii as a tropical storm rather than at hurricane status.
Forecast models suggest Hector will pass to the south of the islands midweek next week, in the Wednesday and Thursday time frame.
But forecasters say it is still too early to know what the exact impact will be as far as winds and rain.
1.40pm update: Rain and high winds expected
Hurricane Hector will bring some rain and gusty winds during the middle to latter part of next week.
Drenching rain and gusty winds would increase across the Big Island first, then perhaps Maui, Moloka’i and O’ahu during the latter part of next week.
12.28pm update: Hawaii authorities warn Hawaii residents to prepare for impact
Historically, hurricanes tend to weaken before reaching Hawaiian waters as high mountains on Big Island tend to disrupt the strength of the storms approaching from the east and southeast.
But with Hawaii still recovering from the Kilauea natural disaster, of which the aftermath is still altering the geographical landscape, the Hawaii Emergency Management team advised locals to prepare for gale force winds and storms.
The agency advised residents to prepare and pack a minimum of 14 days worth of food and water and to stay tuned for updates.
In case evacuation orders are issued, residents are advised to become familiar with the surrounding areas and to spend time with their family working out the safest escape route.
The agency also advised visitors to Hawaii to download the GoHawaii App and read the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Travel Safety Brochure.
Hurricane Hector path: The storm will hit Hawaii on Wednesday
12.08pm update: Most hurricanes tend to weaken before reaching Hawaii waters
A report from Accuweather read: “The high volcanic mountains on the Big Island tend to disrupt the strength of the storms as they approach from the east and southeast.
“Should Hector make more of a northwestward turn toward Hawaii, squalls with locally drenching rain and gusty winds would increase across the Big Island first, then perhaps Maui, Moloka’i and O’ahu during the latter part of next week.”
12.00pm update: Hurricane Hector could brush further north than predicted
US weather agency AccuWeather said no expected impact will occur across the weekend, but warned next week could see further impact for residents on the Hawaiian islands, including the disaster-fuelled Big Island and the tourist hotspot of Maui.
Hector is currently on a path that will take the tropical system south of Hawaii during the middle to latter part of next week.
But the weather forecasters warned there are a couple of factors that could pull the storm farther north.
“A non-tropical feature may dip southward enough to tug Hector farther north next week,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Hurricane Hector path: The storm is expected to hit on Wednesday morning
11.22am update: According to the latest update, Hector was about 1,590 miles east of Hilo
Hurricane Hector is slated to cross into the Central Pacific basin by early Monday.
Forecasters said the storm was moving west at about 12 mph. This general motion is expected to continue through the weekend.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles.
Hector would be roughly 160 miles southeast of Hilo on Wednesday morning.
11.15am update: Hurricane Hector could have a major impact if it makes landfall
Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s John Bravender said: “All options are on the table. It could move northwards to our latitude and have direct and significant impacts.
“Hector is a small hurricane and the smaller hurricanes tend vary their strength quite rapidly more than a larger hurricane.
“And as it comes near us, it’s certainly not out of the possibility of it being stronger than anticipated.”
11.11 am update: Scientists differ over how hurricanes and volcanoes might interact if put on a collision course
Much remains unknown on the subject of what would happen if a hurricane’s path was headed straight for a volcano.
And it is still unclear whether low atmospheric pressure from a major cyclone could help trigger an eruption.
The current lava flow has been going on for 93 days straight – making it the longest nonstop eruption on record from Kilauea’s lower East Rift zone.
But an eruption from another vent on Kilauea’s middle East Rift Zone continued with little interruption for 35 years.
10.57am update: Hurricane Hector is strengthening as Hawaii on alert for hit
Forecasts from the National Hurricane Center warned news the storm has weakened was misleading as the hurricane has now been upgraded to a category 3.
The hurricane will gain strength “suddenly and rapidly” as it moves towards Hawaii, forecasters said.
The hurricane could make landfall in the second half of next week.
The Hurricane Center experts added: “This is a good time for everyone in the Hawaiian Islands to ensure they have their hurricane plan in place.”
Hurricane Hector path: Spaghetti models show the storm will hit Big Island
Hurricane Hector map: Hurricane Hector is forming in the Pacific
10.54am update: Hurricane Hector’s track could put it on course with Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano
Mount Kilauea erupted on May 3 and has been spewing lava and destroying vast swathes of Big Island ever since.
With Hurricane Hector expected to hit Big Island on Wednesday, the path could take the storm’s track on a collision course with the erupting volcano, situated on the southern portion of the island.
Kilauea continues to spew lava from vents on its eastern flank while its summit crater continues to collapse.
So far, flowing lava has covered 13.4 square miles (34.7 sq km) of the island’s surface, destroying more than 700 homes and displacing thousands of residents.
10.45am update: Latest NHC report
The NHC report reads: “At 9.00am UTC, the eye of Hurricane Hector was located near latitude 14.3 North, longitude 131.7 West.
“Hector is moving toward the west near 12 mph (19 km/h) and this general motion will likely continue for the next several days.
“On the forecast track, Hector is expected to reach the Central Pacific basin early Monday. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts.
“Hector is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
“Short-term fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next few days, but Hector is expected to remain at or near major hurricane intensity through early next week.
“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (30 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km).
“The estimated minimum central pressure is 962mb (28.41 inches).”