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Henriette nears hurricane status

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    In an infrared image taken at 2 a.m. today, NOAA's GOES-15 satellite imagery showed Tropical Depression Gil approaching the Central Pacific Ocean, and Tropical Storm Henriette located to Gil's east.
    Enalrge image

Tropical Storm Henriette is close to becoming a hurricane tonight with sustained winds of 70 mph, just under the 74 mph threshold for a category 1 hurricane, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said. 

The storm is still far from the islands, but forecasters in Honolulu say the weakened remnants of Henriette could bring some rain and/or muggy weather early next week.

Robert Ballard, the science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said it’s too early to say exactly what the storm’s impact on Hawaii will be because forecasts seven days in advance can change significantly.

The forecast discussion for Hawaii said that if Henriette passes to the north, it will “make for a hot and very humid pattern with light winds and the possibility for local downpours. If Henriette stays to our south, trade winds and moderate showers would increase as the system passes by.”

“We’ll have a better idea of what Henriette’s going to do as it gets later in the week,” Ballard said.

Henriette tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or higher extend up to 80 miles from the storm’s center at 5 p.m. and it was about 1,470 miles west southwest of Baja, California.

“Further strengthening seems likely with light shear and warm water in the path of the storm for the next day or so,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. forecast. “Although the shear remains low, Henriette will be heading into more stable air and across cooler waters, which should start a weakening trend.”

Henriette began turning west northwest at 9 mph towards cooler waters this morning. It should enter the Central Pacific as a tropical storm on Thursday.

The storm may bring some surf, perhaps at advisory levels of 8 feet or higher, Saturday into the weekend.

The official forecast track has Henriette as a hurricane through Wednesday. But forecasters say if its path takes it further north, the system will weaken faster.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Gil got a little stronger over warmer waters this morning with sustained winds near 35 mph and the storm may remain at its current strength for the next few days.

The storm was 1,080 miles east southeast of Hilo at 5 p.m., moving slowly west southwest at 9 mph.

It crossed into the Central Pacific and the Honolulu-based Central Pacific Hurricane Center now has responsibility for tracking Gil.

Ballard said the current track takes Gil about 300 miles south of Hawaii, too far south to have a major impact on the state’s weather.

“I don’t think we’re going to see much of a weather change with Gil,” Ballard said.

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