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Former Hurricane Oho reached the Northwest, but not as a hurricane

Fisherman Sean Cavlan checks the lines on his trawler on Thursday in ANB Harbor in Sitka, Alaska. The remnants of Hurricane Oho are expected to hit the outer coast of Alaska as early as Friday morning, with heavy rain and wind gusts up to 75 mph. (AP)
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A hurricane heading in the direction of the Pacific Northwest threatened to cause some wild weather along the coast at the end of the week. But it wasn’t actually a hurricane once the system moved too far north.

Former Hurricane Oho, located northwest of Hawaii on Wednesday, made its way northeast. Winds were expected to hit the Oregon and Washington coasts Thursday and continue on to the British Columbia coast Friday.

Those winds, however, were not a hurricane.

“We’ve been hit by things that were hurricanes,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. For instance, the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 that wrecked havoc on the Pacific Northwest began as a typhoon.

But by the time tropical storm systems reach Washington, they are no longer tropical, according to Mass. That is because the water is too cold. Tropical storms draw their energy from the warm water. Storms then become a sort of hybrid, pulling energy from the now cool water.

However, “they can keep pretty strong,” Mass said.

The system that was Oho was expected to pass the Washington coast between Thursday night and Friday morning. Strong, off-shore winds of up to 70 MPH were expected near British Columbia and the southeast Alaska coast Friday afternoon. The storm could continue to hit portions of Alaska on Saturday with wind gusts of up to 80 MPH.

It will be a “strong event with a lot of rain,” Mass says. “But they’re used to storms up there.”

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