Big Island residents prepare for arrival of Flossie

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Residents of the Big Island completed their emergency preparations in expectation of the worst winds and rain of Hurricane Flossie to arrive Tuesday evening.

As of 8:00 p.m. HST Tuesday (0300 Wednesday UTC), the center of Flossie was located at 17.5N, 155.9W, 95 miles south of South Point (the southernmost tip of the Big Island) and 305 miles south-southeast of Honolulu, moving west-northwest at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 85 mph (160 km/h), making it a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The hurricane is expected to weaken over the next 24 hours. Reconnaissance aircraft show that the eye of the hurricane has disappeared.

Tropical storm force winds of about 40-50 mph with higher gusts are expected to reach the Big Island this evening.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim declared a state of emergency on Monday in preparation for the approach of Flossie, and Governor Linda Lingle signed an order giving Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general, the ability to activate National Guard units.

All public and private schools, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and both campuses of Hawaii Community College were closed on Tuesday. Schools are expected to remain closed on Wednesday.

Local branches of Wal-Mart temporarily provided 24 hour service to allow residents to prepare for Flossie.

About 116 people have voluntarily evacuated to emergency shelters set up by the Red Cross.