Hurricane Barbara formed Monday morning far out in the eastern Pacific and quickly grew to a Category 2 storm by evening.
It is expected to grow into a major hurricane by Tuesday before weakening later this week as it approaches the Central Pacific.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 5 p.m. Hawaii time today that Barbara had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was moving west at 15 mph. It was centered 1,010 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, and less than 2,500 miles east-southeast of Hilo.
“Rapid strengthening is forecast to continue for the next day or so, and Barbara is expected to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night,” forecasters said. “A weakening trend is forecast to begin Wednesday night or on Thursday.”
Barbara is projected to hit its peak far from land as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph by Wednesday, before it drops to a tropical storm with 50 mph sustained winds on Saturday as it enters the Central Pacific region, still hundreds of miles away from the Big Island.
Hurricane-force winds extended up to 25 miles from the center of the storm late Monday and tropical storm-force winds extended up to 160 miles, they said.
It is too early to say how Barbara might affect Hawaii’s weather next week, if at all.
Barbara is the second named tropical cyclone of the 2019 Pacific hurricane season. The first one, Alvin, briefly gained hurricane strength late last week before dissipating as expected Saturday.