UPDATE: 11 p.m.
Just before 11 p.m., Hector was centered about 1,600 miles east-southeast of Hilo and moving west at 12 mph.
The storm is expected to go in this direction through the weekend.
Forecasters say that little change in intensity will occur over the next day or two. However, Hector is still expected to become a major hurricane.
Maximum sustained winds are near 105 mph with higher gusts. Some gradual strengthening is forecast.
UPDATE: 5 p.m.
Hector remains a Category 2 hurricane this evening in the East Pacific, but forecasters said its “rapid intensification has ended for the moment.”
Earlier today, forecasters predicted Hector could increase to a Category 3 major hurricane, but the 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center said the hurricane’s intensity had remained at maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, a strong Category 2 storm.
Just before 5 p.m., the storm was centered about 1,900 miles east-southeast of Hilo, traveling west at 13 mph.
“Some fluctuations in intensity are expected tonight and Friday. Strengthening is expected after that, and Hector is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane by Saturday,” forecasters said. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 15 miles from the center while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles.
The storm is projected to enter the Central Pacific around Sunday as a Category 3 storm. The end of the five-day forecast track has the storm turning northwest toward the Big Island by Tuesday.
Hurricane Hector continues to rapidly intensify, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph at midday, and it is expected to become more powerful as it comes about 600 miles southeast of Hawaii island in five days, according to the National Weather Service.
Hector is expected to reach Central Pacific waters on Sunday. At 11 a.m. today, Hector was moving west at 14 mph and was centered 1,970 miles east-southeast of Hilo.
“Hector is likely to become a major hurricane tonight or tomorrow, with further intensification possible over the next few days,” forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said in their 11 a.m. update.
The latest five-day storm track has Hector moving to the northwest toward Hawaii island at the end of the five-day period.
Hector is expected to develop into “a major” Category 3 hurricane in the Central Pacific, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph by Monday, according to the forecast.
“Hector will continue to intensify, but not as rapidly as it did over the past 24 hours,” Tom Birchard, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said this morning.
Hector emerged as a tropical storm in the Eastern Pacific Wednesday and rapidly intensified to a Category 2 hurricane today.
It’s too soon to tell what kind of surf might accompany Hector’s arrival in Central Pacific waters.
“It’s not a very large storm, so that limits the production of surf,” Birchard said. “If we were to get anything, it would be along more east-facing shores, although surf along south-east shores is possible.”
Hurricane-force winds extend outward 15 miles from Hector’s center today as it moves west, weather officials said.
The storm is still too far from Hawaii to predict how it might affect the state next week, however officials advise the public to keep abreast of the forecast and to check emergency supply kits.