Hurricane Hector strengthens as it marches across Central Pacific

  • Hurricane Hector strengthens as it marches across Central Pacific

Hurricane Hector strengthens as it marches across Central Pacific

Hawaii faces a new threat in the form of Hurricane Hector, a Category 3 storm that is churning its way towards the Big Island.

Hurricane Hector, swirling harmlessly in the Pacific some 1,700 miles (2,760 km) east of the Big Island, grew into a "major hurricane" late Friday, and its maximum sustained winds reached 120 mph (195 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It was uncertain if it would hit or just brush by the southern edge of the Big Island, said a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park Maryland.

The volcano is in the middle of a three-month eruption of lava which has been spewing since May and has covered 13.4 square miles of the island's surface.

Hawaii residents have now been urged to take precaution and prepare for the oncoming storm, with Hurricane Hector expected to hit this week.

The hurricane is moving westward or 275/10 kt. west-northwestward motion is expected over the next day or so as Hector is steered by a deep-layer ridge to its north.

Hector is about 1360 miles (2190 kilometers) east of South Point, Hawaii, and is forecast to cross into the central Pacific by Sunday night or early Monday.

Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim said the area was preparing for Hector's arrival, with a briefing held Sunday at the Civil Defense Agency's Emergency Operations Center. We introduced some elevated precipitation chances over the eastern slopes of the Big Island from Wednesday into Thursday as deep tropical moisture will likely move up the slopes of Maunakea and Maunaloa producing enhanced rainfall activity.

Scientists have differing opinions over how hurricanes and volcanoes might interact, including the question of whether low atmospheric pressure could help trigger an eruption.