Tropical depression expected to become hurricane as it approaches Big Island late next week

A tropical depression being tracked by forecasters in the Eastern Pacific is expected to grow into a hurricane as it approaches Hawaii next week.

Tropical Depression Six-E, which was centered 2,160 miles east of Hilo at 5 a.m. today, is packing maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

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Moving west at 18 mph, the cyclone is expected to become Tropical Storm Erick sometime today.

According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Erick is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph. The 5-day forecast track has it passing several hundred miles southeast of the of the Big Island and moving to the northwest.

The hurricane center said Six-E “is embedded within a good environment for intensification of low (wind) shear and high (sea-surface temperatures). Despite the environment, most of the (computer forecast) models show only a very modest strengthening.”

A low-pressure tropical disturbance off the southwestern coast of Mexico is given a 50% chance by forecasters of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours and a 90 percent chance in the next five days.

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“Conditions are favorable for development, and a tropical depression is expected to develop early next week while the system moves generally westward at 15 to 20 mph,” the hurricane center said.

The disturbance would be named Tropical Storm Flossie.

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