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Tropical Storm Darby to brush Hawaii with high surf, beneficial showers this weekend

Tropical Storm Darby, located over 1,000 miles from Hawaii in the East Pacific, is expected to bring showers and high surf to the islands late this week.

While the Atlantic Basin has hit a plateau in terms of tropical development this month, the Eastern Pacific is heating up.

Darby formed off the coast of Mexico on July 11 as a tropical depression, then strengthened into a tropical storm on July 12. An environment conducive for development helped Darby become the third hurricane of the East Pacific season on July 13 and reach its peak intensity as a Category 3 hurricane on July 16.

Cooler ocean waters have since caused the storm to weaken.

"With Darby moving into a more moderate wind shear environment but increasingly warmer waters, it is expected to either maintain its intensity or weaken very slowly over the next several days," AccuWeather Meteorologist Kevin Gilmore said.

Wind shear is the change in wind direction and wind speed with height. Tropical systems are typically stronger in a weaker wind shear environment.

"Darby is not expected to restrengthen back to a hurricane," Gilmore said.

At this time, it appears Darby will bypass Hawaii to the north just enough to keep the worst conditions of the storm offshore. Nonetheless, wave heights will be on the rise and dangerous rip currents are expected along the northern-facing shores.

"Due to how close Darby will approach Hawaii, some stronger breezes and increased shower activity are also possible by late this week and into this weekend," Gilmore said.

Swimmers, surfers and operators of small craft should be aware of the threat for rip currents.

Heavier showers will also be possible across the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Molokai. The rain will be beneficial for the northern-facing shores, including Hilo, which has received below-normal precipitation so far this month.

The southern-facing shores may receive little to no rain from Darby, which will worsen the ongoing drought.

The northern shores received higher surf earlier this week from what was once Hurricane Celia. Celia was the first tropical system to make it into the Central Pacific basin, but lost tropical characteristics well away from Hawaii as it encountered cooler waters.

Tropical cyclones reach the Central Pacific basin when they cross 140 degrees west longitude.

With additional tropical systems expected to develop across the East Pacific through the end of July, there is the possibility that other storms may survive the trip into the Central Pacific and approach the Hawaiian Islands.

In 2015, a record 15 storms formed or entered the basin. Of these, eight storms brought either increased showers or higher surf to the islands.

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