- (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Hurricane Henriette is still on track to impact the Hawaiian Islands, but forecasters are predicting that the storm will gradually weaken as it progresses westward across the central Pacific.
Storm trackers revealed that hurricane Henriette developed maximum sustained winds early Thursday near 85 mph, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center is expecting the storm to weaken significantly over the next day or so and could even be classified as a tropical storm by as early as Thursday night.
The storm is centered about 1,170 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii and is moving west-northwest near 9 mph. The storm is still not expected to hit the islands directly, but the storm could produce heavy rain leading to localized flooding on parts of the Hawaiian Islands in the coming days.
The hurricane is expected to head northwest and then gradually begin to head west over the next three days. Forecasters did previously state that it does not look like the storm will make landfall, but they are still keeping the possibility open, according to forecasting reports by Weather.com.
The hurricane is expected to weaken over the next two days as the storm system interacts with more stable air and cooler waters on Thursday.
As occurred with Tropical storm Flossie, the climatology of tropical cyclones weakening when they approach Hawaii from the east is expected to hold true in the case of Henriette.
If the storm continues along current models it is estimated that it could have an impact on the Hawaiian Islands sometime Sunday evening or Monday local time.
This has been a relatively active season in the Eastern Pacific with eight named storms so far this season. On average, there are only three Eastern Pacific hurricanes by the first week of August, with hurricane season running until Nov. 1.