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Hurricane Felicia expected to weaken to tropical depression by Monday


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POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009

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

As of 11 p.m., the Category 4 hurricane was less than 1,600 miles southeast of Hilo moving west-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.

The latest five-day forecast has Felicia in waters off the Big Island on Monday as a tropical depression, weaker than the tropical storm that was forecasted earlier.

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