Hurricane Douglas, the strongest storm on the planet right now, is approaching Hawaii of the USA but is forecast to weaken before it reaches the island chain this weekend.
The storm peaked as a Category 4 storm Friday, but began to weaken as the day progressed. Steady weakening is expected to continue for the next two days as the storm approaches Hawaii, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu.
When Douglas reaches the island chain on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, it will likely be a Category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm, forecasters said.
"The Hawaiian Islands should monitor the progress of Douglas," the hurricane center said Friday. "There is an increasing chance that strong winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning Saturday night or Sunday."
Douglas is currently a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph that extend 25 miles from the center of the storm. A major hurricane is any storm ranked Category 3 -- sustained winds 111 to 129 mph -- or stronger, reports CNN.
A hurricane watch has been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii and for Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe,.
Tropical storm-force winds are forecast to arrive on the island of Hawaii as early as Saturday evening local time. The hurricane center forecast between 6 to 10 inches of rain for portions of the islands with isolated maximum totals of 15 inches are possible, especially in higher terrain.
The storm also will create large swells that are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions for several days.
Douglas currently is 725 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and is moving west-northwest directly toward the island chain.
Some forecast models take the storm directly over the island of Hawaii, some thread the needle between the islands and others take the storm just north of the island chain.
It is important to not focus on the center of the forecast track but know that the storm could hit anywhere within the forecast cone issued by the hurricane center.
Although a hurricane's effects on Hawaii can be severe, it is rare for major hurricanes to reach the island chain's shores. For one, the Hawaiian Islands are a small plot of land in the world's largest ocean basin, making the statistical probability of a direct landfall very low.
Hawaii covers 6,423 square miles of land divided up among six main islands, making the chance of a direct landfall even less likely. Florida, by comparison, is a significantly easier target for hurricanes to strike as it covers more than 50,000 square miles.