Hector Strengthens Into a Major Hurricane

Hurricane Hector strengthened to Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on Friday night which made it a major hurricane.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Hector was located at latitude 14.2°N and longitude 130.9°W which put it about 1640 miles (2640 km) east of Hilo, Hawaii.  Hector was moving toward the west at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 140 m.p.h. (225 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 967 mb.

Hurricane Hector strengthened on Friday night despite having a double eyewall structure.  There was a small inner eye surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  A clear ring sometimes called a moat surrounded the inner eyewall.  The moat was surrounded by an outer eyewall that consisted of showers and thunderstorms.  Several other bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the concentric eyewalls.  Thunderstorms in the core of Hurricane Hector were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the hurricane in all directions.

The circulation of Hurricane Hector was small.  Winds to hurricane force only extended out about 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force only extended out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

Hurricane Hector will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the weekend.  Hector will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is between 27°C and 28°C.  It will move through an area where the upper level winds are weak.  However, the existence of concentric eyewalls means that an eyewall replacement cycle will occur at some time in the future.  The eyewall replacement will cause Hurricane Hector to weaken when the inner eyewall dissipates and the strongest winds are found in the outer eyewall.  Hector could begin to intensify again if the outer eyewall begins to contract closer to the center of circulation.

Hurricane Hector will move south of the subtropical high pressure system over the Eastern North Pacific Ocean and the high will steer Hector westward during the next few days.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Hector could be southeast of Hawaii in four or five days.