Just as we enter peak hurricane season — considered globally as occurring in the month of September — a tropical storm currently far of the eastern coast of Mexico in the Pacific is headed toward Hawaii, and is expected to become a hurricane by the weekend.
The AP reports, citing new data from the US National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Hector is gaining strength as it moves deeper into the Pacific:
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Hector would gradually strengthen and reach hurricane strength by late Friday or early Saturday, but it also said the storm would continue to move deeper into the Pacific and would not pose any threat to land.
Hector had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) Wednesday night. It was centered about 1,010 miles (1,630 kilometers) southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and it was moving toward the west at 12 mph (19 kph).
Though currently still nearly 2,000 miles to the east-southeast of Hawaii, The Weather Channel forecasts a "strong tropical system" on a straight westward trajectory that would put it "several hundred miles south of the Hawaiian island chain" resulting it increasing swells; however, a number of factors could result in a significant impact on the southern part of Hawaii.
According The Weather Channel's analysis, a slight northward shift in Hector's current trajectory would bring it closer to Hawaii's path, though still too early to tell:
Two temporary dips in the jet stream might drop far enough south to bring Hector on a slightly more northward path. The first of these dips occurs late this week, but it will likely occur too far ahead of Hector to affect it greatly.
The second dip in the jet stream could be closer to Hector, and it arrives early next week. It is too early to know how strong that dip in the jet stream might be or how much northward pull it could have on Hector since that is nearly a week away, but it is something we will watch.
A few computer models are showing this early next week.
And while still to early to know the potential impact on Hawaii — whether merely increased swells or a more direct path to the south — the storm is expected to pass into the Central Pacific early next week.
Multiple reports say the tropical storm's additional strengthening is forecast to occur over the next several days.
So far it's been a quiet summer for hurricanes and tropical storms heading into the peak of the season, with two hurricanes in the Atlantic in early July, hurricanes Beryl and Chris, which formed around the same time, but which fizzled out in the West Atlantic and were considered weak and unremarkable.
However, as Hector continues on its westward path in the direction of Hawaii, forecasters expect it to become a Category 2 hurricane by early next week, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.