Pali intensified into a category 2 hurricane today, packing winds of 100 mph as it heads toward the equator, where few tropical cyclones have gone before.
At 5 p.m., Pali was about 790 miles south of Johnston Island and 1,410 miles southwest of Honolulu, moving south near the equator at 7 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extend 25 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend 105 miles.
Pali is sending a small, out-of-season south swell to the islands. Waves of 2 to 4 feet are expected on south shores for the next few days. The swell is likely to be enhanced by another storm system near New Zealand that is also sending waves to Hawaii.
Pali is expected to remain a hurricane for the next several days and should turn to the west before reaching the equator.
Besides being the earliest hurricane, tropical storm and tropical depression to form in the Central Pacific during a calendar year, Pali may also be the southernmost tropical cyclone on record for the region.
“We really don’t normally see them this far south,” said Bob Burke, a meteorologist with the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service. “There are no records of any system crossing the equator.”