UPDATE: Tropical Storm Ana Gaining Strength
***This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. to reflect new information released by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.***
Tropical Storm Ana continues to gain speed.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. advisory, issued Tuesday, places the storm approximately 760 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 850 miles east-southeast of Kailua-Kona. Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65 miles per hour and the system was moving to the west at 10 mph.
The latest cone shows the center of Tropical Storm Ana barely clipping the southern section of the Big Island between 2 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday. It is then expected to pass south of Maui and head toward Oahu and Kaua’i.
In the forecast discussion, forecaster Tom Birchard notes that there is a significant southern shear that is positioned between the storm and the islands, but that the tropical storm “is not expected to be exposed to this area of debilitating shear. Instead, the ridge to the north will keep minimal shear over the system on day three as a closed low aloft near the Hawaiian Islands treks steadily west.”
Forecasters still expect Ana to become a Category 1 Hurricane sometime on Wednesday, holding wind speeds between 74 – 95 miles per hour. Strengthening is expected to continue through the next two days with peak intensity coming either Thursday or Friday. Weakening is forecast sometime on Saturday as a shear and drier airspace gets a hold of the storm.
***Original story posted at 7:22 a.m. Tuesday***
Tropical Storm Ana is continuing to gather strength as it closes in on the Hawaiian Islands.
At 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center measured Ana about 885 miles east-southeast of Hilo and 945 east-southeast of Kailua-Kona. Ana was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour and moving to the northwest at five miles per hour.
Ana, formerly known as Tropical Depression Two-C, was first categorized as a tropical storm at 5 p.m. Monday in a regular CPHC advisory.
CPHC discussion says that Ana has slowed slightly since late Monday night because of a ridge steering it to the north and northeast. The projected movement is expected to change, however as forecasters believe that will take a west-northwest track midway to the islands.
The latest cone projection shows the center of Ana off of the Eastern coast of the Big Island early Sunday morning as a Hurricane. The initial forecast, released at 11 a.m. Monday, showed Ana near the same position almost 24 hours earlier.
Forecasters say that Ana may become a hurricane by Wednesday as “intensity guidance shows rapid strengthening through 36 hours…as easterly shear currently over the system gradually diminishes and then remains light.”
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center will issue regular advisories at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m., and 11 p.m. through the duration of the storm.