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Kay weakens to tropical storm in eastern Pacific off coast of Baja California

Tropical Storm Kay, lower right, is seen off the coast of Baja California early on Friday. It is expected to remain a tropical storm on Friday before weakening to a depression early Saturday. Image courtesy NOAA/NHC
Tropical Storm Kay, lower right, is seen off the coast of Baja California early on Friday. It is expected to remain a tropical storm on Friday before weakening to a depression early Saturday. Image courtesy NOAA/NHC

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Hurricane Kay in the eastern Pacific Ocean has weakened to a tropical storm, but is still expected to bring stormy conditions to the western coast of Baja California and parts of Southern California on Friday.

In its 2 a.m. PDT advisory Friday, the National Hurricane Center said Kay was located about 125 miles northwest of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and 235 miles southeast of San Diego. It had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and was moving northwest at 13 mph.

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A storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 mph.

The NHC had said that Kay could become a major hurricane -- one at Category 3 or higher -- on Wednesday. A hurricane reaches Category 3 strength when it has maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. But Kay topped out with winds at 105 mph before it began to weaken late Wednesday.

RELATED Tropical Storm Earl to strengthen as Atlantic basin heats up

Kay is now expected to remain at tropical storm strength through Friday before it weakens to a depression early on Saturday. Its path will take it as far north near the San Diego area before it turns west farther out in the Pacific and ultimately dissipates.

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"On the forecast track, the center of Kay will move parallel to the coast of the northwestern Baja California peninsula through today, and then begin to move further offshore by Saturday," the NHC said in its update Friday.

Although it won't make landfall anywhere on the U.S. West Coast, Kay is still producing stormy conditions for far Southern California, including the San Diego area, where some have put up sandbags to guard against possible flooding.

RELATED Hurricane Danielle continues to strengthen while moving north

Kay became a hurricane after slowly gaining wind intensity off the southwest coast of Mexico on Monday. It was one of three hurricanes -- along with Earl and Danielle in the Atlantic -- on Wednesday, but Danielle weakened to a tropical storm. Earl is still a hurricane and could bring severe conditions to Bermuda.

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