Cosme not likely to bring much rain
The storm is expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression
» High-level southwesterly winds protect Hawaii from cyclones
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Tropical Storm Cosme will likely weaken to a tropical depression, bringing less rain and weaker winds than earlier anticipated, on a course that could take it near the southern tip of the Big Island as early as Friday night.
The impact, if the storm stays on its current track, should still be the biggest on Big Island residents, with winds up to 30 mph. The rest of the state, especially islands' windward sides, should experience an increase in rainfall on Saturday.
Cosme weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Monday night, which means better weekend weather than forecasters expected earlier, but it could be disappointing for those hoping Cosme would help alleviate the summer drought.
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With Tropical Storm Cosme expected to weaken even more as it passes near the Hawaiian Islands as early as Friday night, the isles likely will miss out on heavy showers that could help alleviate dry conditions.
"We wouldn't want a strong storm to move over the islands, because strong winds would have the potential to cause a lot of damage," said Peter Donaldson, National Weather Service forecaster. "But on the other hand, people on the Big Island and Maui would have appreciated more rainfall."
Cosme, which weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Monday night, was about 1,250 miles southeast of Hilo yesterday with winds of 40 mph. By the time it is expected to pass near the southern tip of the Big Island, Cosme should be downgraded even further to a tropical depression with winds up to 30 mph.
Though it's good news that winds will likely not reach speeds that could be potentially damaging, extra rainfall would have helped with the summer drought.
"Should Cosme come our way, we would welcome any rain," said Maui County spokeswoman Mahina Martin. "Our lands are so brown and dry. A tropical storm would bring much-needed water."
Residents in Upcountry Maui are under a 10 percent mandatory water cutback starting about a month ago because of the summer drought. Dry weather also creates conditions for brush fires, with many already igniting across the state this summer.
But Hawaii residents should still take tropical cyclone warnings seriously, Donaldson said, despite the threat weakening. Yesterday morning, Cosme appeared weak but thunderstorms in the afternoon strengthened the system. If the path shifts, even by a few miles north, it would have a greater impact on the islands, Donaldson said.
"Sometimes the thunderstorms keep going and the system strengthens," Donaldson said. "There's still a chance the forecast can change."