Felicia becomes major hurricane over Pacific


POSTED: Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Felicia has grown rapidly into a strong Category 3 hurricane today but the storm continues on a path that forecasters believe will weaken it before it nears Hawaii.

As of 11 a.m. today, Felicia had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph with higher gusts, which makes it a “major hurricane,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical storm force winds extend 120 miles from the storm’s center.The hurricane was less than 1,500 miles southeast of the Big Island, moving northwest at 12 mph.

Felicia is expected to continue on this track for the next couple of days, forecasters said.

The storm’s 5-day forecast has shifted slightly to the north, potentially putting it a few hundred miles east-northeast of the Big Island as a tropical storm on Monday.

The hurricane is expected to move into the Central Pacific on Saturday, when it will hit cooler waters and should weaken, forecasters said. The hurricane center is also tracking Tropical Storm Enrique, a much weaker storm to the east of Felicia.

Enrique has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and is expected to dissipate into a tropical low by the weekend.