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Tropical storm watch issued for Big Island and Maui as Felicia approaches


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POSTED: Sunday, August 09, 2009

The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm watch for the Big Island and Maui County and a flash flood potential outlook for Oahu, Kauai and Niihau as what is now Hurricane Felicia is expected to reach the Hawaiian Islands sometime on Monday.

As of 5 p.m. today, Felicia is still a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and higher gusts. But the storm is expected to weaken to a tropical storm sometime tomorrow.

At 5 p.m., Felicia was about 760 miles east of Hilo and 940 miles east of Honolulu. The storm was  moving west at 15 mph.

A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible in the next 48 hours. Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau could be included in the tropical storm watch later tonight, the weather service said.

Tropical storms have maximum sustained winds of 39 mph to 73 mph which extend outward up to 115 miles from the center of the weather system.

“Regardless of its intensity, Felicia could produce very heavy rainfall with possible flash flooding.” the weather service said in its hydrologic outlook. “Rain bands may reach the Big Island early on Monday with heavy rainfall potentially spreading westward across the state through Tuesday,”

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.

Surf from Felicia was expected to reach eastern shores starting tomorrow with advisory level wave heights of 8 feet on Monday.