Hurricane Olaf strengthens into a category 4 hurricane far off Hawaii

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Hurricane Olaf has strengthened into a major category four hurricane as it moves far southeast of the Hawaiian islands, forecasters say.

The National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. PT advisory on Monday that maximum sustained winds of Olaf had increased to near 130 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, making it a major category four hurricane. Olaf was only a category two hurricane just hours earlier.

The eye of Olaf is located about 1,280 miles (2,065 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, moving in a westward direction at 12 miles (19 kilometers) per hour. This track takes the hurricane closer to the Hawaiian islands, but long-term forecasts expect the hurricane to turn towards the north later this week.

“Olaf has continued to rapidly intensify today. The hurricane has a classical appearance on satellite imagery with a small, clear eye,” said NHC senior hurricane specialist Michael Brennan. “Olaf has strengthened 45 knots (52 mph/83 km/hr) in the last 24 hours, and some additional strengthening is still possible in the next day or two.”

Olaf is expected to stay a major hurricane through Friday morning.

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