The storm's well-formed eye is ominous as it takes aim just south of Hawaii.
Hurricane Erick is now a Category 3 storm, packing sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. That makes it a major hurricane.
New satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the storm's clearly defined eye and powerful eye wall, the ring of storms that surround the storm's center.
"The satellite loop shows a very strong hurricane with a well-formed eye," CNN senior meteorologist Brandon Miller said. "But while the eye of the storm looks mostly clear, closer inspection reveals some small, spinning cloud streaks that are hallmarks of very intense hurricanes and typhoons."
Those little swirls are known as mesovortices and can contain some of the strongest winds, especially when they are located in the eye wall.
Yes, it looks very doom and gloom, but there's good news for Hawaii: The storm is not expected to make landfall.
This view of Hurricane #Erick southeast of Hawaii, seen by #GOESWest , shows some meso-vortices swirling in the low clouds within the storm's eye. Maximum sustained wind speed is 125 mph.
View our #hurricane tracker: https://t.co/zfWRITawDU pic.twitter.com/7HeyKu1dQX
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) July 31, 2019
Although parts of Hawaii could see strong wind gusts and rain Thursday as Erick nears the islands, it's expected to have weakened by then to a tropical storm.