Flossie a hurricane, Erick strengthens to Category 4

UPDATE: There is a second hurricane in the Pacific as Flossie has strengthened to a Category 1 cyclone.

At 11 a.m., Flossie, still in the Eastern Pacific, was 2,290 miles east-southeast of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph with higher gusts, moving to the west at about 14 mph.

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And in the Central Pacific, Hurricane Erick continues to intensify, as well. At 11 a.m., Erick, now at Category 4, was 1,350 miles east-southeast of Hilo, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and moving west at 14 mph.

Forecasters say swells generated by Erick will arrive in the Hawaiian Islands over the next couple of days, with the potential to produce dangerous surf conditions, mainly along east facing shores.

PREVIOUS:Hurricane Erick has intensified into a Category 3 cyclone.

The now-major hurricane was about 1,485 miles east-southeast of Hilo at 5 a.m. today. Maximum sustained winds are 115 mph with higher gusts, and some additional strengthening is expected later today.

According to forecasters, Erick’s eye became significantly more distinct overnight, indicating a rapid intensification has occurred.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 mph from the storm’s center with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 105 miles.

By Wednesday, gradual weakening is possible, according to forecasters, with more rapid weakening expected on Thursday.

The storm’s present movement is to the west at 17 mph. A turn toward the west-northwest is expected today and the storm’s forward speed is expected to decrease slightly. The west-northwest motion is forecast to continue through Thursday.

Erick is still expected to pass south of the Big Island sometime Friday, and could bring increased rain and higher surf.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Flossie continues to intensify.

At 5 a.m. today, the storm was about 1,015 miles southwest of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

Flossie was packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, just below hurricane strength, and forecasters expect the storm to become a hurricane sometime today.

Forecasters say Flossie could be near major hurricane strength by Thursday.

The storm is moving westward at 15 mph and, like Erick, is forecast to turn toward the west-northwest later today. Flossie is expected to continue on a west-northwest track at speeds of 15 to 20 mph for the remainder of the week.

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Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 mph from the center.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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