Hurricane Felicia strengthened into a strong Major Category 4 storm today. While direct impacts to Hawaii aren’t expected anytime soon, residents there are being encouraged to prepare for it and any storm threat this hurricane season.
As of the last advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the center of Hurricane Felicia was located near latitude 14.8 North, longitude 123.2 West, which puts it roughly 1,030 miles west southwest of the southern tip of the Baja of California. Felicia is still far from Hawaii, roughly 2,100 miles east south east of the Big Island of Hawaii. Major Hurricane Felicia is moving toward the west near 9 mph and this general motion is expected to continue for the next several days.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to 130 mph with higher gusts, making Felicia a strong category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The estimated minimum central pressure is 954 mb or 28.17″.
Felicia remains a relatively small tropical cyclone. Hurricane-force winds extend outward only about 15 miles from the center while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles.
The official forecast track brings the storm west with time, inching closer to Hawaii. The National Hurricane Center believes the storm will weaken with time, going from Major Hurricane to regular hurricane status this weekend and weakening to a tropical storm by early next week. Most computer forecast model guidance suggests Felicia will remain south of Hawaii, although some models do bring the system closer to the Big Island and Maui. Even if the storm passes well to the south of Hawaii in a weakened state, it could send moisture north to the islands which could create flood conditions there even with the storm itself being a total miss.
With the storm far away and not an immediate threat to Hawaii yet, state and local agencies in Hawaii are encouraging people to prepare for Felicia or any tropical cyclone threat that could present itself this season. “HIEMA is monitoring Hurricane Felicia, though it is still too early to tell what impact, if any, it will have on our islands,” said the state Emergency Management Agency in a social media post. The Honolulu Department of Emergency Management, responsible for Oahu Island, wrote on social media, “Hurricane Felicia, although quite far from the Hawaiian Islands, is a reminder that we are still early into the 2021 Hurricane Season and we must remain alert and prepared. ”
Any impacts, direct or indirect, to Hawaii would likely occur more than a week away from now.