Monster Hurricane Barbara Churns toward Hawaiian Islands
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
The first major hurricane of the 2019 season is on the books. Hurricane Barbara blew up from a tropical storm to a major Category 4 hurricane within 24 hours, AccuWeather announced. This “monster hurricane” in the Eastern Pacific is now “running loose over the open waters.”
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Hurricane Barbara’s main threat now is to ships including those that approach or depart the Panama Canal over the Pacific Ocean, the weather service added.
AccuWeather tropical meteorologist Adam Douty said, "Given the anticipated track of Barbara, which will keep it in warm waters, tropical moisture and low wind shear through midweek, we expect the hurricane to become a Category 5."
A Category 5 hurricane is the most powerful tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale.
Hurricane Barbara Expected to Reach Sustained Winds of 157 Miles per Hour
Centered about 1,080 miles southwest of Baja California’s southern tip and 1,939 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, Barbara is packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph while moving west-northwest at 14 mph, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported Tuesday.
Forecasters expect Barbara will reach maximum sustained winds of 157 mph. According to Maine Harbors, a maritime weather site, that is wind strong enough to collapse roofs and walls, knock over trees and power poles, and cause power outages leaving areas uninhabitable for several weeks or even months.
“Swells will slowly propagate outward from the hurricane and can create rough surf conditions along the western coast of Mexico later this week and eventually part of Southern California and the west-facing shoreline of the Big Island of Hawaii this weekend,” the Star Advertiser added.
Government officials have advised residents and visitors on the Hawaiian Islands to monitor Barbara’s progress. The hurricane’s northwesterly track will bring Barbara into progressively cooler waters well east of Hawaii later this week. That will lead to a weakening of the storm, Douty said.
However, “waters are warmer than average now around Hawaii. But they may not be warm enough to sustain a tropical storm, let alone a hurricane at this point of the season,” he explained.
Localized Flooding, Gusty Thunderstorms and Rough Seas Expected
Douty added that there could be localized flooding and gusty thunderstorms with rough seas next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and surf that spreads westward over parts of the islands.
Barbara could arrive just days after an unusual rain event occurred in Hawaii. During the last week of June, a non-tropical storm system brought drenching downpours and produced localized flooding over parts of Hawaii.
Honolulu received more than 5.50 inches of rain between June 25 and 26. Normal monthly rainfall for Honolulu during June is a mere 0.26 of an inch, AccuWeather noted.
Barbara is the second named tropical cyclone of the 2019 Pacific hurricane season. The first, Alvin, briefly gained hurricane strength late last week before dissipating as expected Saturday.