Monday, August 23, 2004

Storm near Big Island
weakens over weekend

Experts expect little effect elsewhere
since the downgrade to a tropical

A storm expected to pass south of the Big Island has weakened into a tropical depression but is still set to bring high surf and rain to the Big Island tomorrow and Wednesday.

National Weather Service forecasters downgraded Tropical Depression Estelle yesterday afternoon as the storm weakened after passing over cooler waters.

"The cold water pretty much tore it apart," said NWS lead forecaster Jeff Powell. "It's pretty well behaved."

But the weather service also issued a high-surf advisory through tomorrow for east-facing shores of the Big Island. Estelle will likely heighten surf along the Big Island's southwestern coast to the 8-foot range, Powell said.

Waves were expected to rise tonight, reach a peak today and slowly decline tomorrow.

The tropical depression is also expected to bring some rain to the Big Island tomorrow and Wednesday, but it is still unclear how heavy the rains will be, Powell said.

He said the storm should have little effect on the other islands.

Estelle is on a track to pass about 150 miles south of the Big Island late tomorrow and early Wednesday. The depression, which is packing winds of up to 35 miles per hour, is moving west-northwest at about 9 mph.

The storm was about 775 miles east of Hilo last night, and is expected to swing west-southwest by this morning.

Powell said there is a small chance the storm could re-intensify "slightly" on Thursday or Friday, but by that time the depression will have already steered clear of the island chain.

Weather models predict Estelle will remain a depression until Friday, before dissipating completely.

The storm is the third tropical cyclone system (including hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions) to form in the central Pacific this hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

NOAA National Weather Service



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