Thursday, August 6, 2009

Category 4 Hurricane on Track to Hawaii
Major Weakening Expected Before Possible Landfall

8 pm PDT Update: Felicia remains at 135 mph at 8 pm. Movement is toward the west-northwest at 12 mph.

PM Update: As of 2 pm PDT, Felicia has weakened slightly to 135 mph. The storm is moving northwest at 10 mph from a position a little under 1500 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii.

Original post:
Despite the slow start to the Atlantic tropical season, the Eastern Pacific has now had 6 named storms. The latest, Hurricane Felicia, has reached major status at Category 4, with maximum winds of 140 mph. Its westward track is likely to bring it to the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands, but it's likely to undergo serious weakening on the way because of several factors:
  • cooler water temperatures
  • increased wind shear in the form of strong westerly winds aloft
  • drier air
The latest advisory calls for the storm to begin weakening later today. As weakening continues in the next several days, it is forecast to approach Hawaii as a weak tropical storm or tropical depression. The current wind speed outlook calls for a 5-10% chance of tropical storm force winds reaching the Big Island within the next 5 days. CNN quotes Richard Knabb, deputy director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center: "If anything, it will be a rain-making system over the (Hawaiian) islands."

Images (click to enlarge): Hurricane Felicia infrared satellite image from Weather Underground and forecast track from National Hurricane Center

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