Maui, Oahu now in Flossie’s path (7/29/13, 7:08AM)

Star-Advertiser: Maui, Oahu now in Flossie’s path; warning extends to Kauai
By Gordon Y.K. Pang & Craig Gima
POSTED: 10:46 a.m. HST, Jul 28, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 07:08 a.m. HST, Jul 29, 2013

HILO » Flossie, weakening but still a tropical storm, was starting its trek across the Hawaiian islands early this morning, with its latest predicted track taking a more northerly course that could mean more rain and wind for Maui County and Oahu.

At 5 a.m., the storm was packing diminished maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was 120 east-northeast of Hilo and 290 miles east of Honolulu, moving west-northwest at 16 mph.

Tropical storm force winds extended 105 miles from the center. Late Sunday night, the storm had 60 mph winds and tropical storm force winds extended more than 160 miles from the center.

The revised track this morning takes Flossie directly over Maui this afternoon and Oahu later tonight; by Tuesday, the forecast calls for a weaker tropical depression over Kauai.

The entire state is under a tropical storm warning and a flash flood watch through Tuesday night.

Rain was falling over much of the state from Hilo to Honolulu, but the brunt of the storm is still a couple of hours away from the eastern islands.

In Hilo, Hawaii island Mayor Billy Kenoi and acting Civil Defense administrator Darryl Oliveira continued to urge residents to stay vigilant despite the improvement from last night’s forecast which had the Big Island getting a direct hit.

“This is not the time (to be complacent),” Kenoi said, as he and other county officials received the news at 11 p.m. that the storm was starting to weaken at Hilo’s Emergency Operations Center.

“We’re going to continue to prepare for the worst,” the mayor said. “We want people to exercise caution, stay off the roads if possible and minimize curiosity.”

At 5 a.m. today, forecasters at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Manoa said new satellite images “suggest a rapid weakening trend … It is likely that continued northwest shear will maintain this weakening trend.”

Forecasters say wind shear is beginning to break Flossie apart.

“We expect Flossie to weaken steadily as it tracks west northwest and disspate within 96 hours,” they said.

But the storm can still dump heavy rain of up to 15 inches in isolated windward areas, forecasters said. Most of Hawaii island and Maui County can expect 6 to 10 inches of rain as the storm passes. Rainfall of 4 to 8 inches is possible on Oahu, with up to 12 inches in some windward areas.

“This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in the mountains,” forecasters said.

It is a message that is being repeated by officials on the Big Island and throughout the state.

Oliveira said the brunt of the storm, with the strongest winds and high surf, is expected between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., Oliveira said.

North winds of 25 to 40 mph, with gusts of up to 60 mph are still expected on Hawaii island. Oahu, Maui and Kauai may get northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph, with gusts of 55 to 60 mph.

Isolated tornadoes and waterspouts are also possible as the storm passes.

“Dangerously high surf is hammering east-facing shores of the Big Island,” the National Weather Service said. “Surf will continue to build this morning with the largest surf continuing into Tuesday.”

Kenoi, after consulting with Oliveira at the Hilo Emergency Operations Center, issued word for all non-essential workers to stay home today.

Evacuation shelters are being opened at nine locations at 4 a.m. Hisaoka Gym in North Kohala, Waimea Community Center, Honokaa Community Center, Laupahoehoe Elementary School, Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale in South Hilo, Pahoa Community Center, Mountain View Elementary School, Pahala Community Center and the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona.

The Pahala, Mountain View and Kailua-Kona locations were added by Hawaii Civil Defense at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, following the news that the storm was heading in a more southerly direction.

Both Kenoi and Gov. Neil Abercrombie have issued emergency proclamations.

On Maui, Mayor Alan Arakawa closed all county parks and offices today and urged residents to prepare for the storm.

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