Tropical Storm Erick lashes Hawaii with rain

Tropical Storm Erick’s outer bands were dumping heavy rain on parts of Hawaii early Friday as the storm’s center was making what likely is its closest pass of the island chain.

Erick, centered about 250 miles south of Hilo on Hawaii’s Big Island by 5 a.m. local time (11 a.m. ET), is the closest of two tropical storms posing some threat to Hawaii in the Pacific. The other, Flossie, is forecast to approach the islands late this weekend.

Erick’s outer bands were dumping rain across the Big Island early Friday. Rainfall could generally total 4 to 8 inches across parts of the islands through early Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph, but they weren’t reaching the islands at nearly that strength. Sustained winds of tropical storm strength (at least 39 mph) extended only 105 miles from the storm’s core.

Still, the storm still could produce dangerous surf Friday, especially on the islands’ east- and southeast-facing shores, the hurricane center said.

Erick is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Sunday, by which time it should be well west of the Aloha State.

Flossie, meanwhile, was hundreds of miles to the east early Friday, but could begin to impact Hawaii with rain early next week.

Flossie is expected to eventually track north of the islands. Still, it could bring heavy surf and rain.