Big Island braces for Hurricane Flossie

High surf, strong winds, heavy rain, possible flooding expected.

BY STAFF REPORT | HONOLULU | August 14, 2007

Infrared satellite picture of Hurricane Flossie approaching Hawaiian islands.
Credit: NOAA

Residents on Hawaii's Big Island braced Tuesday as a diminished Hurricane Flossie prepared to brush the island bringing expected high surf, strong winds, heavy rain and possible flooding.

Parks, beaches and schools were closed and Tuesday classes were canceled at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and at both Hawaii community college campuses. State workers considered "non-disaster response employees" were told not to report to work.

Gov. Linda Lingle, meantime, signed an emergency disaster proclamation for the entire state Monday that she said would allow officials to respond quickly to any storm damage. The proclamation would allow the National Guard to be activated to assist in the storm. Eleven state emergency shelters were opened.

As Flossie bore down on the islands, a hurricane watch, tropical storm warning and flash flood warning remained in effect. On Monday evening, the island was shaken by a magnitude 5.4 earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The temblor at 7:38 p.m. was centered about 25 miles south of Hilo. At least half a dozen aftershocks were reported. No damages or injuries were reported.

Forecasters said the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain and bring waves of 20 to 25 feet to some areas of the Big Island.

Flossie, downgraded to a Category 2 storm with winds of 105 mph down from 140 mph just a day earlier was about 160 miles south of Hilo and about 320 miles from Honolulu as of 2 p.m. HST. It was expected to pass about 100 miles from the Big Island.

Late Monday, forecasters said Flossie showed "definite signs of weakening" and that the storm would likely not have a major impact on the other islands and that no other watches or warnings would be required elsewhere.

Flossie was moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph and was expected to bring tropical storm force winds to the Big Island by late afternoon Tuesday as it passed to the south, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said. Forecasters said those winds could increase if the storm passed closer to the island.

Flossie became a tropical storm on Wednesday and was upgraded to hurricane status on Friday. By early Saturday, it had become a Category 3 storm with winds between 111 and 130 mph. Within hours, it strengthened to a Category 4, which can have top winds of 155 mph. It churned through the Pacific with winds of about 140 mph until Monday morning, when it was downgraded to a Category 3 storm and then reduced to a Category 2.

Flossie was the sixth named storm of the 2007 eastern Pacific season, which runs from May 15 to Nov. 30. Forecasters have predicted below-normal activity for the 2007 season, with 12 to 16 named storms, six to nine of which were expected to become hurricanes.

The central Pacific hurricane season runs June 1 to Nov. 30.

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