Hurricane Douglas, the strongest storm on the planet, moves toward Hawaii

Jul 24, 2020, 10:59 AM
hawaii douglas...
Hurricane Douglas, the strongest storm on the planet, moves toward Hawaii. Photo: CNN Weather

    (CNN) — Major Hurricane Douglas is the strongest storm on the planet right now and it’s approaching Hawaii. The storm is a category 3 hurricane, packing dangerous winds of 120 mph that extend 25 miles from the center of the storm, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. A major hurricane is any storm ranked category 3 — winds 111 to 129 mph — or stronger.

“The Hawaiian Islands should monitor the progress of Douglas,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says. “There is an increasing chance that strong winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning Saturday night or Sunday.”

Get the latest on the latest tropical systems around the world from CNN’s meteorologists

Tropical storm-force winds are forecast to arrive on the Big Island as early as Saturday evening local time.

The storm is 895 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii and is moving west-northwest directly toward the island chain. The good news is this major hurricane is forecast to begin weakening today as it interacts will cooler water and drier air.

Douglas is expected to be a category 1 — winds 74 to 95 mph — hurricane as it approaches the islands this weekend.

It is likely to weaken even more as it approaches Hawaii and will quickly transition to a tropical storm as it moves over the state.

Some forecast models take the storm directly over the Big Island, some thread the needle between the islands and others take the storm just north of the island chain.

It is important to not focus on the center of the forecast track but know that the storm could hit anywhere within the forecast cone issued by the NHC.

“It is fairly common for hurricanes to track towards Hawaii, but they usually dissipate or at least weaken considerably before impacting the islands,” Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, said. “For example, both Lane and Olivia impacted Hawaii in 2018. Also, in 2016, both Lester and Madeline threatened Hawaii.”

Although a hurricane’s effects on Hawaii can be severe, it is rare for major hurricanes to reach the island chain’s shores. For one, the Hawaiian Islands are a small plot of land amongst the world’s largest ocean basin, making the statistical probability of a direct landfall very low.

Hawaii covers 6,423 square miles of land divided up among six main islands, making the chance of a direct landfall even less likely. Florida, by comparison, is a significantly easier target for hurricanes to strike as it covers more than 50,000 square miles.

Slow start to the East Pacific hurricane season

In a season that has seen early storm formation in the Atlantic, the eastern Pacific has been slower for storm development than in previous years.

“During the period of reliable records, this is the 4th latest date in which the first hurricane of the season has formed,” according to the NHC.

A slow Pacific hurricane season, especially when paired with an active Atlantic hurricane season, is a sign of a La Niña event, which forecasters have predicted could occur this year.

Under La Niña, global convection wind currents yield sinking air over the eastern Pacific, and rising air over the western Atlantic. Sinking air patterns increase wind shear, a sudden shift in wind direction, speed or both, which can rip apart hurricanes before they have a chance to grow. Rising air creates a favorable environment for tropical storm development, which is why all eyes are on the Atlantic this season.​​​

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories


Hari Bastakoti shovels a sidewalk following a snowstorm in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022...
Chandler Holt

After a cold November, Utah prepares for another storm

After a colder November than years past, a cold front (potentially bringing storm conditions) is on the horizon for Utah.
1 day ago
(Photo courtesy of Snowbird Ski Resort)...
Chandler Holt

Avalanche at Snowbird caused by skier, no injuries

On Saturday, an avalanche roared down the slopes at Snowbird Ski Resort. Several people were caught and carried by the avalanche, but no one was buried.
1 day ago
lake effect snow really did a number on the wasatch front this morning...
Jennifer Gray, CNN meteorologist

Back-to-back winter storms bring heavy snow, critical fire conditions to the West

Two winter storms in less than a week will bring more than a foot of snow to the mountains, wind gusts of over 70 mph leading to the possibility of a wall of dust and the high danger of fire to the central and western US.
3 days ago
Low water is pictured at the Great Salt Lake and a new bill is aiming to study the lake...
Dan Bammes

Senate passes Romney-sponsored bill to fund Great Salt Lake study

A bill to study the Great Salt Lake passed through the Senate with a unanimous vote on Wednesday. The bill would provide $5 million per year in funding.
3 days ago
two cars drive down a road as snow falls...
Amie Schaeffer

Morning storms impact school schedules

A growing list of school districts are shifting their schedules. Some schools are going remote for the day while others delaying start due to weather.
3 days ago
avalanche in Utah is pictured...
Mark Jones

Avalanche warning issued in Utah through Saturday morning

On Thursday afternoon, an Avalanche Warning was issued by the Utah Avalanche Center through Saturday morning at 6 a.m.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Hurricane Douglas, the strongest storm on the planet, moves toward Hawaii