August 12, 2007 in Nation/World

Hurricane heads toward Hawaii

Jaymes Song Associated Press

HONOLULU – Hurricane Flossie strengthened to a Category 4 storm Saturday as it spun more than 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.

The hurricane could pass by Hawaii late Tuesday or early Wednesday, forecasters said, but by then cooler waters should weaken Flossie considerably to a tropical storm.

Late Saturday, Flossie had intensified with maximum sustained winds near 138 mph about 975 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

“Although the current forecast keeps the center of Flossie south of the Hawaiian islands … a closer approach cannot be ruled out,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said in a statement.

The storm, with gusts of 167 mph, was traveling west at about 12 mph.

Flossie may weaken as it moves over cooler ocean waters and travels south of Hawaii, according to the forecast. But it could also keep its strength and veer toward the islands.

Jeff Powell, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said a “ramp-up” of surf on the Big Island was expected late Monday.

The island’s southeastern shores could see waves of 8 to 12 feet, forecasters said, with the surf rising during the day Monday and peaking Tuesday. The island’s South Point is the southernmost area of the United States.

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