(Reuters) - A powerful Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds is ripping across the Pacific Ocean and is expected to hit parts of Hawaii this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said on Friday.
Douglas could be the first hurricane to hit the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic, complicating security plans for officials in the state.
The NHC says that Douglas strengthened Friday and is expected to dump heavy rains to along with dangerous surf and winds to Hawaii by Saturday night or Sunday morning.
It is expected to weaken somewhat before reaching Hawaii, though the NHC said in a bulletin that it “is still forecast to be near hurricane strength as it approaches the eastern end of the Hawaiian Island chain late Saturday night or Sunday.”
The hurricane center said that the storm could dump up to 15 inches of rain on parts of Hawaii, which could spark land slides and flash floods.
Counties across Hawaii were working to get emergency shelters ready for any people forced out of their homes. But Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told the Star Advertiser that the coronavirus pandemic was severely complicating that process, with social distancing requirements meaning that each person sheltered would need much more space.
That means more shelters and more volunteers need to be found, Caldwell said.
Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Alistair Bell