POSTED: 4:28 a.m. HST, Sep 23, 2011
MIAMI >> Hurricane Hilary is moving away from Mexico’s southwestern coast in the Pacific but is a powerful Category 4 storm.
Hilary’s maximum sustained winds early Friday are near 145 mph..
The hurricane is not forecast to make landfall, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center says Mexico’s coast is being affected by wind, rain and heavy surf from Hilary.
The hurricane is centered about 125 miles south-southwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and is moving west near 10 mph.
Mexico's government has posted a tropical-storm warning from Lagunas de Chacahua to Punta San Telmo and a tropical-storm watch from Punta San Telmo to the coastal resort of Manzanillo, according to the U.S. center. Winds of at least 39 mph, tropical storm strength, are reaching the coast and as much as 10 inches of rain may fall in some areas.
Hilary's top winds make it a Category 4 cyclone on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the center said. A storm is considered a major hurricane when its winds top 111 mph, the threshold for Category 3 status.
While Hilary may be strong, it's a small storm, the center said. Hurricane-force winds, those of at least 74 mph, extend only 25 miles from its core.
IMeanwhile in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Ophelia has weakened with winds near 45 mph.
Ophelia is expected to degenerate as it encounters strong upper-level winds, the center said. The hurricane center's current track forecast predicts Ophelia will veer north of Puerto Rico and into the mid-Atlantic.