Hurricane Douglas, the first major Eastern Pacific hurricane of the year, was spinning towards an expected landfall on the Hawaiian Islands on July 25, 2020, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired a true-color image of the storm east of the “Big Island” of Hawaii.
First named as a tropical storm on July 21, Douglas strengthened to Category 4 strength on July 23, packing peak one-minute sustained winds of 130 mph (209 km/h). By July 25 the storm had begun to weaken as it moved over slightly cooler waters. At 2100 UTC (11 a.m. HST) on July 25, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Hurricane Douglas was located about 325 miles (525 km) east of Hilo and 520 miles (835 km) east southeast of Honolulu, Hawaii. It was moving west-northwest at 18 mph (30 km/h) and carrying maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) bringing it to a Category 1 hurricane.
Although predicted to make landfall on the eastern Hawaiian Islands by July 26, Hurricane Douglas veered just slightly northward, bringing it to a breathtakingly-close near-miss. The storm’s center passed about 40 miles off the coast of Kauai on July 27, while Douglas remained at hurricane strength. This a lucky turn, not only keeping the center offshore, but also allowing the Hawaiian Islands to remain on the “left” side of the center, where winds tend to be the weakest in most hurricanes. According to the wind speed graphics published by the NHC, the majority of the strong winds stayed to the “right” of center – allowing Hawaii to escape serious damage. Most reports mention high surf, rip tides, rain and significant – but not damaging – wind gusts.
On July 28, a much-reduced Douglas completed its tour of the Hawaiian Islands. At 8 a.m. EDT (2 a.m. HST/1200 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Douglas was located near latitude 23.8 degrees north and longitude 165.7 degrees west. That is about 40 miles (60 km) east of French Frigate Shoals, and about 525 miles (845 km) west-northwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. The storm was moving toward the west-northwest at about 18 mph (30 km/h). Maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts.
The weakening trend is expected to continue over the next couple of days, with Douglas is expected to dissipate by Thursday, July 29.