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Hurricane Felicia grows to Category 4 with 140 mph winds


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POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009

Felicia has grown swiftly to a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 140 mph, as it continues to move toward the Central Pacific.

The hurricane is likely near its peak strength and is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it is within striking distance of the Big Island early next week, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane force winds extend 40 mph from the storm’s center while tropical storm-force winds extend 140 mph out, according to the center’s latest update.

The hurricane is about 1,600 miles southeast of Hilo and 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 since yesterday, 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.