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Fernanda may raise surf, rip current risk in Hawaii this weekend

As Hurricane Fernanda churns closer to the Hawaiian Islands, heightened swells and rip currents could threaten bathers and boaters this weekend.

Fernanda has been churning in the open waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean since Wednesday, July 12. The storm strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane this past weekend, but has since weakened to a Category 1 hurricane.

Further weakening is expected as the storm moves to the northwest.

“Hurricane Fernanda should continue to move over progressively cooler water during the next few days,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. “This will cause the storm to gradually weaken.”

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Kottlowski expects the storm to lose its tropical characteristics by the time it makes its closest approach to Hawaii this weekend.

There are two paths that the storm can take once it nears Hawaii. The more likely scenario is the storm steering just north of the islands. Another, less likely, scenario is the storm passing directly over the islands in its weakened state.

Regardless, bathers may have to stay out of the water for a few days and small craft should exercise caution due to choppy seas late this week and into the weekend.

The rough surf will be most noticeable along the east- and north-facing beaches. South-facing beaches will be sheltered from the enhanced surf.

Once Fernanda dissipates over the weekend, some leftover moisture may move close enough to Hawaii to bring enhanced showers and thunderstorms to the islands.

The threat of enhanced downpours will be greater should the storm take a closer approach to the islands than currently anticipated.

Just how much or how little of an impact the storm will have in terms of rainfall across the region will be determined in the coming days as the storm’s path becomes clearer.

The east Pacific has remained active since Fernanda formed. Tropical Storm Greg and Tropical Depression Eight-E continue to churn in the open waters, but neither storm will be a threat to land.