Hurricane Felicia expected to start losing some of its punch


POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hurricane Felicia, with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph, is expected to slowly weaken today and tomorrow, reaching the Big Island early next week as a tropical depression, forecasters say.



As of 11 a.m., the Category 4 hurricane was 1,490 miles east of Hilo moving northwest at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane-force winds extend 40 miles from the center, while tropical-force winds extend 140 miles.



“Some weakening of the hurricane is likely to occur soon as the cyclone moves over the progressively cooler waters,” the hurricane center’s advisory said.



The latest five-day forecast has Felicia as a tropical depression  over the Big Island by early Tuesday.



The hurricane is expected to move into the Central Pacific on Saturday, when it will hit cooler waters and should continue weakening, forecasters said.



“All of the reliable intensity guidance show that system to be a either a tropical depression or dissipated at the end of the (forecast) period,” the 11 a.m. advisory said. “The official forecast will keep Felicia as a tropical cyclone through the next five days though the strong (wind) shear could weaken the system to a remnant low by Day 5.”



 Forecasters noted that Felicia is the strongest hurricane in the Eastern Pacific since Daniel in 2006



The hurricane center is also tracking Tropical Depression Enrique, a much weaker storm east of Felicia. Enrique has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and is expected to dissipate into a tropical low by the weekend.