PUNA, Hawaii -- Hurricane Hector is tracking for a close call with Hawaii's Big Island, parts of which are still coping with destruction from the ongoing eruption of the Kilauea volcano.
According to the National Hurricane Center, "small but powerful" Hector continues to churn away in the eastern Pacific as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.
Hector is expected to weaken over cooler water before its center passes within 200 miles of the Big Island later this week, according to AccuWeather, though the island's southern tip is included in the NHC's five-day storm forecast cone.
"A non-tropical feature may dip southward enough to tug Hector farther north next week," AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski explained. "Hector could also track farther north near Hawaii if its forward speed slows down."
Depending on its ultimate track, the storm could bring thunderstorms, gusty winds and increased surf to parts of the island and could also cause dangerous rip currents off the east- and south-facing beaches.
"Hector is our first hurricane this year. We want to remind the public we are in the middle of the hurricane season and we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide," Tom Travis, Hawaii's Administrator of Emergency Management, said in a news release.
Kilauea's latest volcanic event began more than three months ago, sending destructive currents of lava into neighborhoods on the island's southeast side. At least 700 homes have been destroyed, authorities estimate, and thousands of people have been displaced. Two dozen injuries have been reported in connection with the eruption in lower Puna.
The eruption damaged roadways and other infrastructure, threatened a geothermal power plant at one point and altered the island's coastline as lava completely filled in shallow Kapoho Bay.