Hurricane Felicia expected to weaken in Pacific


POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hurricane Felicia maintained its strength with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, but the storm is expected to begin weakening today, reaching the Big Island next week as a tropical depression, forecasters say.

As of 5 a.m., the Category 4 hurricane was about 1,500 miles southeast 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 155 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 weaken, forecasters said.

“Almost all of the guidance suggests that Felicia will be a tropical depression or dissipated by the end of the forecast,” the 5 a.m. advisory said.

The hurricane center is also tracking Tropical Storm Enrique, a much weaker storm to the northeast of Felicia. Enrique has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, and is expected to dissipate into a tropical low by the weekend.