Felicia enters Central Pacific with Big Island in its sights


POSTED: Saturday, August 08, 2009

A weakening Felicia entered the Central Pacific today as a Category 1 hurricane, continuing on its path toward the Big Island.
The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, was 930 miles east of Hilo at 5 a.m. this morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane-force winds extend 35 miles from its center, while tropical storm-force winds extend 115 miles. It is moving west at 15 mph, the center’s forecasters said.
The five-day forecast has Felicia as a tropical storm when it approaches the Big Island late Monday, and as a tropical depression as it passes south of Oahu Tuesday.
The hurricane is forecast to weaken slowly today, then wind shear should diminish its strength more rapidly, forecasters said.
Felicia peaked as a Category 4 storm Thursday with winds topping 140 mph.
Officials caution that Hawaii residents should continue monitoring the storm over the next few days.
Despite diminishing, Felicia still could bring heavy rains and flash flooding throughout the islands Monday through Wednesday, the National Weather Service said Friday.
In its “flood potential outlook,” the weather service said the storm’s rain bands may reach the Big Island by early Monday and spread west across the state.
The outlook notes “considerable uncertainty in the locations that will be affected, the onset and duration of heavy rains and the rainfall amounts that are expected to occur.”
High surf is another possible effect of the storm.
Residents are advised to stay tuned to NOAA weather radio and local media reports for updates.