Coast Guard Urges Caution Ahead of Tropical Storm Barbara

Tropical Storm Barbara is forecast to continue to rapidly weaken to a remnant low or tropical wave through the weekend, and the Coast Guard reminds waterway users and beachgoers to exercise caution throughout the islands, especially along the east side of the Big Island.

This is the first named storm of the season predicted to affect Hawaii. Storm impacts frequently precede the arrival of any storm in the form of storm surge and rain. While wind speeds are closely monitored and reported, nearly 90 percent of all deaths associated with hurricanes are from water — storm surge, high surf, and inland flooding.

Barbara is forecast to cross the 140 W meridian as a weak tropical storm or remnant low Saturday morning and is expected to reach the Big Island of Hawaii as a remnant low-pressure system or tropical wave Monday morning, bringing trade winds of 28 to 35 mph and tropical rain to the windward side. The remnants of Barbara may cause rain, localized flooding, and storm surge. Small craft advisories for the usual trade wind areas and potential high surf warnings for east-facing Big Island coastlines, including the port of Hilo, are anticipated.

Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in significant loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast. Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries. Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated. Barbara should pass the main Hawaiian Islands by Tuesday, however, rip currents, flooding, and heat may remain threats.

The Coast Guard will provide safety messaging and port condition updates as necessary for this and future storms. All commercial harbors are currently open, and their status is available at https://homeport.uscg.mil/port-directory/honolulu.

The Coast Guard is one of several Federal agencies that respond to actual or threatened natural disasters or emergencies. The captain of the port Honolulu is responsible for the safety and security of the ports within a zone that includes the islands and atolls of the Hawaiian island chain and American Samoa. The COTP will oversee actions that are intended to safeguard the port against damage that may be caused by heavy weather. In concert with state partners steps are taken, and critical risk factors are considered: before, during, and after heavy weather for terminals, facilities, vessels, and marine operations.

‘NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced in May a 70 percent chance of above-normal tropical cyclone activity during the Central Pacific hurricane season this year. For the season forecasters predict, 5 to 8 tropical cyclones for the Central Pacific hurricane basin. This number includes tropical depressions, named storms, and hurricanes. A near-normal season has four to five tropical cyclones, and an above-normal season has six or more tropical cyclones. This outlook is a general guide to the overall seasonal hurricane activity in the Central Pacific basin and does not predict whether any of these systems will affect Hawaii. The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30.

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