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Ignacio on track to pass near Hawaii; Jimena also a hurricane

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    This composite satellite image shows Hurricane Ignacio (lower center), Hurricane Jimena (lower right) and Tropical Storm Kilo (left) around the Hawaiian islands in the Central and East Pacific.

Hurricane Ignacio crossed into the Central Pacific on Thursday and continued on a path that could take it over or close to Hawaii at hurricane strength early next week.

At 8 a.m. Friday, Ignacio was 845 miles east-southeast of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 10 mph and is expected to become a category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds Saturday, before wind shear and cooler waters begin to weaken it.

Hurricane force winds extend 25 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend 80 miles.

The latest forecast track has Ignacio as a Category 1 hurricane as it passes north of the islands Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rain clouds ahead of the center of the storm could begin to affect the Big Island as early as Sunday.

“Forecast uncertainty increases significantly on Monday and Tuesday, hinging on the eventual track of hurricane Ignacio,” the weather service said. “Forecast track errors at that time range are roughly 150 to 200 miles, so it is still too early to tell what the direct impacts will be. Everyone in the state should continue to monitor the progress of Ignacio during the next several days, and the National Weather Service urges individuals to have an action plan in case Ignacio, or any hurricane, threatens”

Air Force Reserves “hurricane hunter” planes remained in Hawaii after Tropical Storm Kilo passed and will begin flying into Ignacio Friday evening to help forecasters track the storm.

Forecasters are also monitoring the subtropical jet stream near Hawaii, which creates wind shear that has weakened previous storms approaching from the southeast.

“There’s a question of how strong it (the jet stream) is going to be,” said Chris Brenchley, a meteorologist with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “It doesn’t look like the wall of shear that we had with (hurricanes) Hilda or Guillermo.”

But because the storm is so far away, the islands are so small, and the margin of error so large in five-day forecasts, it is still possible that the storm could have little affect on Hawaii’s weather or it could pass directly over one or more of the main islands.

Ignacio is expected to bring advisory-level surf to east shores as early as this weekend. The surf could reach warning levels later in the week, depending on Ignacio’s development.

Meanwhile, behind Ignacio, Jimena developed into a hurricane Thursday evening. At 5 a.m. Friday, Jimena was about 1,100 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, moving west at 12 mph. 

Jimena became the eighth hurricane of the East Pacific season could grow into a major hurricane Friday night.

Hurricane force winds extending outward up to 15 miles and tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 90 miles, according to forecasters with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Jimena is still too far away to estimate its impact, if any, on Hawaii’s weather.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Kilo continued to strengthen in the northwest Hawaiian islands. The storm was about 160 miles west-northwest of Johnston Island and 810 miles south-southeast of Midway Island at about 8 a.m. Friday, moving to the west, away from the main Hawaiian islands, at 10 mph.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Johnston Island.

The storm may become a hurricane Friday. It is no longer a threat to the main Hawaiian islands.

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