Friday, August 7, 2009

Hurricane Felicia weakening fast, but get out your umbrella

Hurricane Felicia is bearing down on the Islands, the first cyclone of the season to have the Islands so directly in its path, but it appears to be dying fast.

(Image: This is an infrared image of Felicia at 1:30 a.m. Hawaii time, still a powerful hurricane. Credit: NOAA)

If they were betting folks, the forecasters at the National Weather Service would be placing serious wagers that the storm will be down to gusty winds and a lot of rain by the end of the weekend.

So, that doesn't mean there won't be trouble for Hawai'i. But thunderstorms and flooding now appear more likely than roofs lifting off and going flapping downwind. That's for the Big Island and Maui, which could start feeling some effects late Monday or early Tuesday.

Oahu and Kaua'i could see even milder effects at midweek, as the west-moving storm is forecast to start curving south, away from the Islands, after crossing the Big Island.

It doesn't mean that Felicia can safely be ignored.

The forecasting service says the storm is losing strength as it moves into cooler waters near Hawai'i, and during the weekend is expected to also meet contrary winds at upper elevations, which will tend to weaken its powerful circulation pattern.

One caveat in the forecast is that Felicia's weakening could be slower than expected, meaning winds will be a little stronger by the time they get to Hawai'i—although still far below hurricane strength. Another caveat is that forecasts of a cyclone's path are notoriously tricky more than a couple of days out.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

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