HONOLULU (Reuters)- The National Weather Service put the island of Hawaii under a hurricane watch on Monday morning as Hurricane Flossie continued on a course that should bring it within 100 miles of the Pacific state.
Flossie, currently a Category 4 hurricane, is expected to come closest to the island by 2 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday when it will weaken to a Category 2, said Ray Tanabe, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist.
Winds at that time will be at 40-50 miles per hour and surf will exceed 15 feet. Torrential rainfall of up to 10 inches is expected along the southeast shore of the so-called "Big Island".
For the rest of the state, the main impact will be high surf along the south and east facing shores, Tanabe said.
"All the islands of Hawaii are at equal risks for hurricanes," Tanabe said. "There is still a chance the hurricane could take a jog a bit to the north, but it has been fairly well behaved."
Watches are issued when the weather service believes the risk of hazardous weather has increased significantly but the timing of those conditions is uncertain.
It is intended to provide enough lead time for civil defense authorities and the public to prepare. Civil defense officials on the island of Hawaii met this morning to discuss preparations.
The last recorded hurricane to hit the Island of Hawaii was the Kohala Cyclone in 1871, Tanabe said. More recently, tropical storms Estelle and Jimena both passed south of the island of Hawaii in 2004 and 2003.