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Hurricane weakens slightly


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POSTED: Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hurricane Felicia weakened slightly last night and will most likely be a tropical storm when it reaches the islands beginning tomorrow, the National Weather Service said last night.

“;When a system like this approaches, it can wobble. There's no telling where it can go,”; said Ed Teixeira, vice director of the state Civil Defense.

State officials will likely decide today if schools will be closed tomorrow on the Big Island, Teixeira said.

Maximum sustained winds for Felicia dropped to 80 mph last night from 85 mph earlier in the day. But the storm was still at Category 1 hurricane strength at 8 p.m.

“;All islands are at risk for heavy rains and potential flooding,”; Teixeira said. “;We're doing a lot of planning, in case we have to do some evacuations.”;

At 8 p.m., Hurricane Felicia was about 720 miles from Hilo and 900 miles from Honolulu moving west at 15 mph.

Forecasters predicted the storm had a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm by tomorrow afternoon and about a 25 percent chance of weakening to a tropical depression. But the weather service estimated there is still a 10 percent chance of Felicia remaining a hurricane when it hits.

;[Preview] City making stream disaster preparations
        ;[Preview]
 

City crews are working overtime trying to prevent flooding in low lying areas.

Watch ]

 

   

;[Preview] Oahu residents prepare for disaster
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Those who were working this week and couldn't stock up with emergency supplies, made up for lost time today.

Watch ]

 

The weather service issued a tropical storm watch yesterday for Big Island and Maui County, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. The weather service said the watch could be extended to Oahu, Kauai and Niihau today.

A tropical storm has maximum sustained winds of up to 73 mph. The winds extend 115 miles from the center.

Felicia is also expected to bring high surf beginning this afternoon. Swells along east-facing shores are expected to increase overnight, eventually topping advisory levels of 8 feet on most islands tomorrow and possibly reaching warning levels of 15 feet on the Big Island. The surf is expected to decline on Wednesday.

Big Island officials are closing beach parks between Whittington Beach Park in Kau and Laupahoehoe Beach Park in Hamakua beginning at 2:30 p.m. today through Wednesday because of high surf and the approaching storm.

Hawaii County Civil Defense urged residents to take steps to minimize the effects of flooding and surf and tie down loose objects in case of high winds — something Teixeira said residents of all islands should heed.

“;You've got to monitor the weather situation,”; Teixeira said. “;It's never too late to get your emergency supplies.”;

On Oahu, city employees yesterday cleared stream beds and canals to prevent flooding, said John Cummings, spokesman for Honolulu's Department of Emergency Management.

“;It looks like we're still in for some heavy rains and winds, beginning probably 2 a.m. Tuesday,”; he said.

Felicia could bring 12 inches of rain to Oahu and 35 mph winds with higher gusts for several hours, he said.

“;If you live in an area that was flooded in the past, there is a good chance that it'll be flooded again,”; Cummings said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency flew in 12 employees from Oakland, Calif., yesterday, who will remained stationed here on call to monitor damage from the storm.

Marsha Weinert, state tourism liaison, said the state has sent information to hotels listing precautions and advice for guests.

The weather service said there is “;considerable uncertainty”; about where heavy rains and flooding could happen and about how long the rains will last.

“;All of these (factors) are dependent on the track Felicia ultimately takes,”; the weather service said.

HURRICANE FELICIA

» Location: 720 miles east of Hilo*

» Maximum sustained winds: 80 mph (Category 1 hurricane)*

» Direction: Moving westward at 15 mph

» Advisories: Tropical storm watch posted for Big Island and Maui County. The watch could be extended to Oahu, Kauai and Niihau today.

» Forecast: The storm is expected to hit the Big Island and Maui tomorrow and Oahu early Tuesday morning, most likely at tropical storm strength. Tropical storm winds are between 39 mph to 73 mph and extend outwards about 115 miles from the center of the storm.

*as of 8 p.m. last night