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Felicia grows into major hurricane as it heads west, still far from Hawaii

  • COURTESY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER
                                The location of Hurricane Felicia as of 11 a.m. today.

    COURTESY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

    The location of Hurricane Felicia as of 11 a.m. today.

  • COURTESY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER
                                At about 11 p.m., Hurricane Felicia had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, a Category 3 storm.

    COURTESY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

    At about 11 p.m., Hurricane Felicia had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, a Category 3 storm.

UPDATE: 11 p.m.

Hurricane Felicia strengthened into a major hurricane tonight in the East Pacific.

The Category 3 storm has maximum sustained winds at 115 mph and is located about 900 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.

The National Hurricane Center said Felicia is expected to move in a west-southwest motion over the next 24 hours with a turn back to the west expected over the weekend.

Felicia is expected to strengthen Friday followed by a very gradual weakening trend through the end of the weekend.

5:35 p.m.

Hurricane Felicia, far off in the East Pacific, continues to strengthen and is expected to build into a major hurricane overnight, according to forecasters with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The center’s latest update shows that Felicia has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, a Category 2 storm. At about 5 p.m., the storm was centered about 2,300 miles southeast of Hilo and 855 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, moving west at 9 mph.

The forecast calls for the storm to continue to intensify over warm waters and become a major Category 3 storm overnight, peaking with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph Friday, then slowly weakening over the weekend.

”A gradual turn to the west-southwest is expected by Friday, and a westward motion is forecast this weekend,” the hurricane center said.

Hurricane-force winds of 75 mph or greater extend up to 25 miles from the storm’s center and tropical storm-force winds of 39 mph or greater extend out 80 miles.

By the end of the current five-day forecast period, Felicia is expected to still be a strong tropical storm as it approaches the Central Pacific, still far southeast of Hilo.

While the storm is still too far away to know how it may affect Hawaii’s weather, authorities say it is a good reminder for all residents to check and restock their emergency kits, and to review their emergency plans.

11 a.m.

Felicia has strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

With maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, Felicia was heading west at 10 mph as of 11 a.m. today, and was about 2,050 miles east-southeast of Hilo.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 70 miles.

A gradual turn to the west-southwest is expected by Friday with a westward motion expected this weekend, hurricane officials said.

At the end of the current five-day forecast period, Felicia is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it approaches the Central Pacific.

The next forecast update is expected at 5 p.m.

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Although it remains a Category 1 hurricane, Felicia gained strength overnight as it continues on a westward track toward the Central Pacific.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, Felicia was headed west at 12 mph and located about 2,418 miles east-southeast of Hilo at 5 a.m. today, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Hurricane Felicia is expected to take a gradual turn to the west-southwest by Friday and continue on that track for 48 hours afterward, forecasters said. Although Felicia could continue to strengthen through early Friday, the NHC expects possible slow weakening over the weekend.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from Felicia’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles.

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