and Star-Advertiser staff
POSTED: 2:48 p.m. HST, Aug 15, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 8:51 p.m. HST, Aug 15, 2011
Forecasters say a tropical depression formed far from land in the eastern Pacific Ocean could come as near as 500 miles southeast of Hawaii Island about 2 p.m. Saturday but is expected to be severely weakened by then.
The depression with maximum sustained winds at 35 mph was more than 1,600 miles from Hawaii this afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the depression could become a tropical storm Tuesday. It is moving west at 10 mph and is forecast to enter the Central Pacific as a tropical storm on Thursday.
But it is then anticipated to weaken and return to tropic depression status by Thursday afternoon, said Sam Houston, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service's Honolulu office.
By the time it is anticipated to come within 500 miles of the Big Island Saturday afternoon, it could become even a nontropical remnant storm, he said.
National forecasters concurred.
"The official forecast indicates modest strengthening through 48 hours ... It should be noted that the depression is a fairly fragile system given its small size ... so it would not be surprising at all if it denigrated to a remnant low at some point within the five-day forecast," forecasters said today.
Houston warned, however, that hurricane forecasts only go out five days, and that a lot of meteorological variables could determine what happens between now and the weekend.