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Fernanda strengthens a bit, but still not considered major threat

By Star-Advertiser staff

and the Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 6:29 p.m. HST, Aug 17, 2011

Tropical Storm Fernanda is expected to cross into the Central Pacific tonight having strengthened a bit, but the forecast  still calls for it to weaken considerably as it moves south of the Big Island early next week.

The early-evening forecast from the National Hurricane Center in Miami showed wind speeds of 50 mph with higher gusts.  

Although Fernanda has strengthened slightly the storm is no longer seen growing into a small hurricane in the Central Pacific, as was predicted Tuesday.

National Hurricane Center forecasters said Fernanda is expected to dissipate into a "remnant low" by the time it passes hundreds of miles south of the Big Island.

Still, Central Pacific Hurricane Center officials on Oahu said they will continue to monitor the storm closely as it enters the region.

Elsewhere in the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Greg is strengthening as it moves parallel to Mexico's Pacific coast but it is not prompting any coastal watches or warnings.

The storm is forecast to become a hurricane late Thursday but on a generally northwest track out to sea that will keep its center well away from land.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wednesday the storm had maximum sustained winds near 65 mph. It was centered about 195 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico. It's more than 450 miles south-southeast off the southern tip of Baja, Calif.

Neither storm is expected to threaten land, officials said.

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