HONOLULU (KHON2) — As of 5 a.m. HST Wednesday morning Hurricane Dora, was a category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph and gusts of 125 mph. Dora is moving west at 16 mph. The storm will rapidly intensify over the next 24 to 48 hours by Thursday morning with winds of 130 mph. “Rapid intensification” is defined as an increase of sustained winds of at least 25 mph in 24 hours or less. This storm could increase winds from 60 mph to 130 mph in less than 48 hours. Some attribute the disturbingly more frequent rapid intensification trend to climate change. Dora was only a tropical storm Tuesday morning.

Wednesday morning’s forecast update of Hurricane Dora was very similar to Tuesday’s forecast. It will continue to move over warm waters and strengthen over the next couple days. The surprise from the 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami is that Dora is now expected to become a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph by Thursday morning.

The current forecast track still has Dora passing south of the Big Island next Tuesday into Wednesday. As long as that forecast track holds true, the impacts to Hawaii will only be higher east-northeast winds and potential higher surf on east and south facing shores. The impacts to Hawaii are highly dependent on the strength of Dora when it passes to the south of the Big Island, as well as its distance from Hawaii. The models have been relatively consistent with the track of Dora but not consistent with the future intensity of Dora. Dora could range anywhere from a tropical depression to a category 1 hurricane when it passes. Due to this model inconsistency, the exact impacts to Hawaii will not be known for a while.

Hawaii residents should monitor this storm closely and always be prepared. Dora may shift north. If it does, the closer it comes to the Big Island, the higher the winds and surf. The Big Island would get the highest winds and surf. The farther northwest you are in Hawaii, the less you will see these impacts.

Heightened Tropical Activity Expected

Another tropical cyclone is expected to develop later this week in the Southeastern Pacific and may also become a hurricane. The next named storm will be Eugene. The good news is that models are indicating Eugene will take a more northerly route, roughly parallel to the west Mexico coast. Eugene’s actual path may vary but for now it is still expected to move north over cooler water and dissipate, far from Hawaii.

Looking at the next few weeks, models show heightened tropical activity in the Eastern Pacific through the first two weeks of August and beyond. The last two weeks of August are normally the peak in the Pacific hurricane season. In addition to that, the sea surface temperatures between the Eastern Pacific and Hawaii are continuing to warm with El Niño conditions strengthening. This means that future tropical cyclones that move toward Hawaii will have a better chance to keep their intensity and/or strengthen. El Niño conditions are expected to continue strengthening through the rest of the hurricane season.