Updated 

Tropical Storm Karina strengthening in Eastern Pacific


Tropical Storm Karina continues to strengthen Wednesday approximately 400 miles south of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, National Hurricane Center forecasters in Miami said.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, Karina was packing 50 mph sustained winds, with higher gusts, and moving toward the west at 15 mph, forecasters said.

Strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Karina could become a hurricane by Friday, forecasters said. Tropical storm-force winds currently extend outward up to 35 miles.

The center is also keeping tabs on a broad area of low pressure about 1,200 miles east-southeast of the Big Island where shower and thunderstorm activity continues. While the storm activity has changed little during the past several hours, environmental conditions are expected to become conducive for development of a tropical cyclone during the next several days. The system, which is moving west at 10 mph, should enter the Central North Pacific Basin by Thursday.

Forecasters gave the area a 30 percent chance of forming into a tropical cyclone within the coming 48 hours and a 70 percent chance of forming into a tropical cyclone during the next 5 days. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu is also monitoring the system because it is nearing the Central North Pacific Basin.

National Hurricane Center officials in May predicted 14 to 20 named storms and seven to 11 hurricanes — including three to six major hurricanes — to form this year in the Eastern Pacific Basin. Overall, they gave the 2014 season a 50 percent chance of being above normal, 40 percent chance of being near-normal and a 10 percent chance of being below norma

l.

The Eastern Pacific averages 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes each year, according to the center.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began May 15 and ends Nov. 30.