- Ignacio upgraded to Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph
- Tropical storm conditions possible on Big Island by Sunday
A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii as Hurricane Ignacio intensified rapidly into a major system in the waters east of the island state, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Saturday.
Ignacio was 585 miles (940 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, with top winds of 140 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the center said in an advisory at 11 a.m. Honolulu time. The storm was moving northwest at 9 miles an hour, with tropical storm conditions possible on the Big Island starting Sunday night, according to the center.
“Large swells generated by Ignacio will arrive along east and southeast facing shores of the main Hawaiian islands over the next several days,” the advisory said. “Resultant surf will be large and potentially life-threatening,” especially on the Big Island.
The storm is forecast to pass northeast of the Big Island on Monday, the center said. Hurricane-force winds extend as much as 30 miles from the storm’s core, and tropical-force winds extend as much as 140 miles, the center said.
An El Nino, or warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has increased the number of storms threatening the Hawaiian islands this year. In addition to Ignacio, Hurricane Kilo was located to the west about 730 miles south-southeast of Midway Island.