Update: Felicia Becomes Cat 4 Hurricane, Slow Weakening Expected Over Weekend
July 16, 2021, 6:11 AM HST
* Updated July 17, 6:33 AM
Update: 5 p.m. July 16, 2021
Hurricane Felicia is now a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale with sustained winds near 130 mph. The cyclone continues on a path toward the west near 9 mph. The compact system is forecast to weaken slowly over the weekend beginning late tonight or early Saturday.
At last check, the system was 1,030 miles WSW of the Southern tip of Baja California and more than 2,150 miles ESE of Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Felicia is expected to move into the Central Pacific Hurricane Center area of responsibility next Wednesday as a tropical storm.
The small, but powerful, Felicia is now a strong category 3 Hurricane, but is still located far from Hawaiʻi, in the Eastern Pacific.
The cyclone strengthened overnight with sustained winds of 125 mph. It is located 940 miles WSW of the southern tip of Baja California and more than 2,200 miles ESE of Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Felicia is expected to move into the Central Pacific Hurricane Center area of responsibility next Wednesday as a tropical storm.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting a turn toward the west and slow weakening to begin late tonight and into the weekend.
The latest NHC forecast discussion calls for some additional slight strengthening to occur this morning due to low vertical shear and warm sea surface temperatures, with Felicia to briefly become a Category 4 hurricane. “However, the warm water beneath the powerful hurricane isn’t very deep as indicated by upper-ocean heat content values currently only around 5 units, which suggests that cold upwelling could begin at any time during the next 12 hours.”
Earlier this year, NOAA predicted a near-or below-normal 2021 Central Pacific hurricane season with 2-5 Tropical Cyclones. The annual Season Outlook, calls for an 80% chance of a near- or below-normal season. Agency officials say this is a prediction, NOT a forecast of hurricane landfalls. A near-normal season has 4 or 5 tropical cyclones.
*This post will be updated throughout the day as more information becomes available and further forecasts are released.