Erick a hurricane, Tropical Storm Flossie to follow

HILO — It’s now Hurricane Erick.

According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, as of 5 p.m. Monday, Erick was about 1,110 miles east-southeast of Hilo, right at latitude 140 degrees west. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph with higher gusts, just over the threshold of Category 1 strength, and moving to the west at 18 mph.

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Hurricane-force winds extend up to 15 miles from the storm’s center, while tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles.

The storm is forecast to strengthen before starting to weaken late Wednesday.

The center of Erick is predicted to pass south of the Big Island sometime Friday. The cyclone should have weakened to tropical storm status by then. It is expected to bring increased rainfall and higher surf to the Big Island.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Flossie strengthened in the Eastern Pacific.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, Flossie was 2,520 miles east-southeast of Hilo, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph with higher gusts. Steady strengthening is forecast through the next few days, and Flossie is expected to become a hurricane sometime today. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center.

Flossie is moving to the west at about 17 mph and is expected to move in the same direction through today with some decrease in forward speed. Afterward, Flossie is expected to make a turn to the west-northwest and maintain that direction through Friday.

Flossie is on a more northward track than Erick, and although the storm is still far to the east, it could take a track that affects Hawaii. Flossie is expected to move into the Central Pacific late Friday.

Hawaii has had a couple of close calls by storms with the name Flossie.

In 2013, Tropical Storm Flossie almost made landfall in Hawaii but moved to the north and weakened.

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In 2007, Hurricane Flossie neared Hawaii Island, prompting a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch. The storm ultimately passed offshore, south of Hawaii Island.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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