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Hurricane Fernanda could enter Central Pacific next week

July 13, 2017 - 2:00pm

KAILUA-KONA — Fernanda reached hurricane strength Thursday and the storm’s expected to continue rapidly strengthening as it marches west toward the Hawaiian Islands.

It could become a major hurricane, also known as a Category 3 or higher storm, by Friday thanks to warm sea surface temperatures and light shear, National Hurricane Center forecasters in Miami said Thursday. A Category 3 storm features sustained winds of at least 111 mph, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

As of Thursday afternoon, Fernanda was located about 2,600 miles east of the Big Island, packing 85 mph winds and traveling west at 12 mph. It’s expected to continue on that track for the next couple of days before making a turn toward the west-northwest.

By Sunday, forecasters expect the hurricane to peak as a Category 4 storm packing 140 mph winds. Thereafter, it’s expected to encounter cooler waters and drier air, which should help to steadily weaken Fernanda.

By Tuesday, Fernanda will likely be located about 1,300 miles east of the Big Island, several hundred miles from entering the Central Pacific, which is where Hawaii is located. Based on current forecast models, the storm could be packing 100 mph.

The system is not currently a threat to the Hawaiian Islands, however, a long period east swell from Fernanda is forecast to arrive by Tuesday or Wednesday. The size of this swell will be dependent on the eventual track and intensity of the system.

In the Central Pacific, no tropical cyclones are expected to form within the next couple of days.

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