Neki formed as a tropical depression over the Pacific Ocean on October 18, 2009. The storm had strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane by the time the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image. Acquired at 11:45 a.m. Hawaiian time (21:45 UTC) on October 21, 2009, this image shows the massive storm swirling over the Pacific Ocean, roughly 640 nautical miles (1,180 kilometers) west-southwest of the big island of Hawaii. The eye of the storm appears to span more than 50 kilometers. Stretching across several hundred kilometers, Neki extends long arms toward the east-northeast.
At 6:00 a.m. Hawaiian time (16:00 UTC), the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a bulletin stating that a hurricane warning remained in effect for the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument, also known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The warning extended from Maro Reef in the west to Nihoa Island in the east. Hurricane conditions could be expected in the area for 36 hours. At the time of the bulletin, Neki was traveling toward the north-northeast, with maximum sustained winds of 100 knots (185 kilometers per hour) and gusts up to 120 knots (220 kilometers per hour).