HONOLULU (Reuters) - Hurricane Ignacio was churning across the Pacific on Friday on a path that could take it past Hawaii in coming days, with a second, more powerful storm trailing in its wake, the National Hurricane Center said.
Though the track of Ignacio remains uncertain, the Category 1 hurricane, at the low end of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, was heading northwest and “continues to get closer to Hawaii”, the government forecaster said.
Ignacio was centered about 720 miles (1,160 km) east of Hilo and 935 miles (1,500 km) east of Honolulu on Friday evening. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph).
A coastal storm watch could be issued for the Hawaiian islands early on Saturday, the center said.
Maui and the island of Hawaii could feel the effects of Hurricane Ignacio as early as Monday or Tuesday, according to current predictions, said Tom Bichard, Central Pacific Hurricane Center forecaster.
“It is still within the potential impact area,” he said. “...But a lot can change between now and then.”
Hawaii officials urged residents to prepare in the event the storm hits the island early next week.
Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation on Friday freeing up funds for disaster relief and allowing the suspension of certain laws that could impede “emergency functions”.
Jimena, a second storm forming behind Ignacio, strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane on Friday with winds of 125 mph that could become a Category 5 by Saturday.
Jimena was moving west at 12 miles per hour around 1,190 miles (1,915 km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.
“It’s close enough for us to be concerned,” Bichard said.
Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard Borsuk and John Stonestreet