HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Forecasters are watching Tropical Storm Darby closely, and say the cyclone could bring rain and gusty winds to the state this weekend.
The storm hasn't yet crossed into the Central Pacific, and is expected to continue weakening over the next several days. But meteorologists say the storm could still pack a powerful punch when it comes closer to the islands Saturday.
"Most of the systems we've had so far have turned to the north into colder water before they got to the islands," said Robert Ballard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "That may not happen in this case."
Ballard says computer models show Darby could come closer to the islands than any previous storms this year.
He expects it to weaken significantly before it reaches Hawaii, but things can quickly change. He's urging residents to be prepared for a worst case scenario.
"They do have to be ready for heavy rain, possibility of gusty winds and power outages," Ballard said.
Hawaii families certainly have lots of practice getting ready for storms. During 2015's hurricane season, the Central Pacific basin had a record 15 named storms. All of them missed Hawaii.
"The type of weather we get locally from Darby is going to be highly based on the exact track and how much it weakens before it gets to the islands," Ballard said.
Residents should remember that even a weakened storm can hit hard, he added. The Big Island learned that in 2014, when Tropical Storm Iselle caused major damage. Downed utility poles left some communities without power for weeks.
Experts say this year's La Nina weather pattern can help suppress hurricane activity. However, they predict five to eight tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific through November 30.