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Olaf enters Central Pacific as powerful Category 4 hurricane


  • NASA/NOAA GOES PROJECT
    This satellite image taken this morning shows Hurricane Olaf as it moves west in the Eastern Pacific.
  • NOAA / NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
    This composite satellite image taken this morning shows Hurricane Olaf as it intensifies in the Eastern Pacific.
  • UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MILWAUKEE
    Computer satellite models predict Olaf will turn to the north after entering the Central Pacific. But the models vary over Olaf's path after the turn. Forecasters caution not to pay attention to individual models
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Olaf entered the Central Pacific Monday night as a powerful Category 4 storm, extending a record-shattering 2015 hurricane season.

Hurricane Olaf’s projected track keeps it well east and north of Hawaii, however the track could change and residents are advised to monitor reports of the massive storm.

At 11 p.m. Monday, Olaf was centered 1,175 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 1,385 miles east-southeast of Honolulu, moving west-northwest at 10 mph, with sustained maximum winds of 150 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Hurricane-force winds extend 35 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds going out 140 miles from the center.

The storm is expected to strengthen Tuesday, forecasters said, but if it follows the projected path, Olaf should move northwest then north into cooler waters, which should weaken it and keep it far from Hawaii.

As long as the storm follows the forecast track, Hawaii should avoid destructive winds and rain, but will still see high surf and a possible change in wind direction.

Forecasters say large swells should begin reaching east-facing shores in the next couple of days and could become "potentially life-threatening." 

Olaf is the 15th tropical cyclone in the Central Pacific in 2015, far surpassing the previous record of 11 in 1992 and 1994. It is also the eighth hurricane in the Central Pacific this season, topping the previous record of five in 1994.

Warmer-than-normal waters from El Nino conditions have helped fuel tropical cyclones in the East and Central Pacific, scientists say. With about six weeks remaining in the hurricane season, forecasters urge Hawaii residents to remain vigilant and prepared.

 

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