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Flossie to hit Hawaii Island early Monday morning (UPDATED: 8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28)

(Image courtesy of NOAA)

(Image courtesy of NOAA)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

UPDATED: 11:30 p.m. Sunday

As of 11 p.m. Sunday, maximum sustained winds were reported at 50 mph. Winds were at 60 mph in the 8 p.m. update.

At 11 p.m., the storm was about 200 miles east of Hilo and moving west at 17 mph.

Another slight shift toward the south means Flossie may make landfall over Puna, rather than Hamakua or Hilo.

Because of the storm’s counter-clockwise formation, areas immediately north of landfall are expected to experience stronger winds.

From the National Weather Service (UPDATED: 11:30 p.m. Sunday)

Wind: Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the Big Island late Sunday night.

Rainfall: Heavy rainfall is expected to begin as early as Monday morning over the Big Island. Flossie is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 6 to 10 inches over the Big Island and Maui County, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible mainly in windward areas. This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

Surf: Dangerously high surf is starting to hammer east facing shores of the Big Island. Surf will build overnight, with the largest surf expected Monday into Tuesday. The big surf may cause coastal road closures.

Topical Storm Flossie still is packing winds up to 60 mph as it takes aim at the Big Island.

The first effects of the storm already are being felt, with surf reported up to 8 feet along the eastern shores.

The National Weather Service forecasts 6-10 inches of rain and potential sustained winds of 35-45 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.

High surf and some storm surge to coastal areas are predicted earlier. The surf already is reported up to 8 feet along the east coast of the Big Island, with peak surf expected between 12-18 feet in the late morning.

Most of the state has been placed under a Tropical Storm Warning and flash flood watch.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Billy Kenoi have signed emergency proclamations for the state and county, respectively.

Forecasters say it is difficult to predict exactly where Flossie will make landfall, although it is lining up to sweep directly across the Big Island. It is also difficult to predict how long the storm will hover over the island, but it likely will be a 12-hour event.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, the storm was 265 miles east of Hilo and moving at 18 mph in a westerly direction, dipping a little bit south.

At noon, the storm was located 430 miles east of Hilo, moving west at 20 mph with 60 mph max sustained winds.

The National Weather Service expects Flossie to remain a tropical storm through Tuesday, July 30.

Windward areas of all islands can expect rainfall in excess of six to 10 inches. The NWS has decreased its forecast for leeward sides to two to five inches.

Hawaii and Maui Counties likely will see sustained winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. Areas that tunnel wind should expect higher gusts.

Michael Cantin with the National Weather Service (NWS) said, “Strong winds are appearing to be more likely.” However, the storm may slow and change predicted timing.

Dry air being drawn into the system will continue weakening the storm. Flossie’s interaction with the Big Island may also weaken it.

However, Cantin said one storm doesn’t necessarily say anything about the season in general. “We are still expecting a below normal season with one to three storms,” he said.

While the state has weathered numerous storm warnings and watches in recent years, Flossie may be the strongest system to serve up a direct hit on the islands since Hurricane Iniki swept across Kauai in 1992.

Also, the state previously suffered at the hands of a storm named Flossie. That system brought rain, wind and high surf in 2007.

8 p.m. (July 28) NWS Briefing – Audio MP3

Mayor Billy Kenoi has announced all non-essential county workers are to stay home Monday as Tropical Storm Flossie sets its sights directly on the island.

Kenoi earlier in the day declared a state of emergency for the island.

“Due to the possibility of property damage and/or bodily injury to residents of Hawaii Island, and the need for government agencies and representatives from the private sector to mobilize and provide immediate services to our island residents, a Civil Defense state of emergency is authorized,” the proclamation states.

The state of emergency is in effect from 1 p.m. Sunday until further notice.

The county is also opening evacuation centers as Flossie nears the island. Evacuation shelters will be open by 4 a.m. Monday at the following sites:

* Pahoa Community Center
* Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale
* Laupahoehoe Charter School
* Honokaa Sports Complex
* Waimea Community Center
* Hisaoka Gym in North Kohala
* Mountain View School
* Pahala Community Center
* West Hawaii Civic Center

County Civil Defense update, 8:30 p.m. Sunday

County officials have announced the facilities will be closed Monday:
* All solid waste transfer stations
* Hilo and Puuanahulu landfills
* All county parks and beach parks
* All state beach parks
* Mass Transit suspending all bus operations effective midnight tonight. Bus routes will be re-established as weather conditions permit.

In addition, all non-essential county business to include public meetings and County Council hearings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday are cancelled.

Civil Defense also urged all employers are encouraged to limit operations to essential employees and emergency operations only.

School closures:

* Connections Charter School
* Hawaii Community College
* UH campuses (including off campus facilities)

YWCA of Hawaii Island facilities and offices will be closed Monday.

“We are following the lead of Hawaii County, which called for all non-essential workers to stay at home,” said Kathleen McGilvray, YWCA of Hawaii Island CEO.

The sexual assault crisis hotline will be available as long as phones are operational.

Hawaii State Judiciary update, 9 p.m. Sunday

State courthouses on the Big Island will be closed Monday.

Court hearings scheduled for Monday will be rescheduled to a later date. The Supreme Court will issue an order extending by one day, any Big Island court matter with a filing or hearing due date of July 29.

All Big Island courthouses will reopen Tuesday morning.

Governor signs emergency proclamation

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed an Emergency Proclamation in preparation of Tropical Storm Flossie. The proclamation provides certain authorities that will allow the state to more effectively prepare for the arrival of TS Flossie, expected to make landfall Monday morning on the eastern end of Hawaii Island.

Local, state and federal governmental agencies and non-profit partners are coordinating and working together to minimize the impact of the projected high wind, waves and torrential rain.

“All parts of our emergency response system for the entire state are working together,” Abercrombie said. “The purpose of signing this proclamation is to ensure that state agencies have full powers necessary to best protect and serve the people of Hawaii.”

The emergency proclamation covers such items as access to the major disaster fund to cover staff overtime and other expenses, allowing emergency procurement of needed supplies and resources, as well as activation of the National Guard, if needed.

To read the full proclamation, visit:

The Coast Guard in Honolulu has announced it is closing the ports of Hilo and Kawaihae on the Big Island and Kahului, Maui, to all traffic starting midnight Sunday.

All cargo operations in these ports will be secured by 6 a.m. Monday, officials said.

Additionally, the state Department of Transportation currently plans to keep all airports open. Individual airlines, however, may decide to cancel flights, so call ahead if you have travel plans.

HELCO offices closed Monday

Due to the anticipated impacts of Tropical Storm Flossie, Hawaii Electric Light Company offices will be closed Monday, July 29.

However, the company’s trouble line remains operational. Customers may call 969-6666 to report power outages and downed power lines.

Do not touch fallen or low hanging power lines or anything they may be in contact with. A seemingly harmless wire may still be energized. Stay clear of puddles where downed lines may have landed.

“The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority,” said President Jay Ignacio. “We encourage the community to monitor local television, radio and other media broadcasts for storm updates and the locations of open emergency shelters.”

The company will issue a news release when customer operations resume.

The State Civil Defense has established an Operations Cell to more closely monitor events associated with Flossie, and will be fully activating the State Emergency Operations Center at 7 a.m. Monday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT), which arrived in Honolulu.

SCD continues to coordinate with counties, the Department of Transportation and non-profits to prepare for the storm.

Jeff Hickman of the SCD asked the public to be patient while the SCD determines action for airports and harbors.

Hickman also asked the public to:

* limit transportation

* check flood-prone areas

* clean gutters and remove loose debris

* review family communication plans

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park prepares for Flossie

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will remain open during Tropical Storm Flossie, but with minimal services.

“We encourage people to shelter in place, and stay off roads. Our first priority is safety, and keeping our park employees and visitors out of harm’s way,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Park officials have closed the following areas as of Sunday evening.

Closures remain in effect until the storm has passed and conditions are safe:

* Chain of Craters Road, from Devastation Trail parking lot to the coast
* All backcountry areas, including Mauna Loa and cabins
* Mauna Loa Road (known locally as “Mauna Loa Strip Road”)
* All coastal areas, including, Apua Point, Keauhou, Halape, and Kaaha
* Kulanaokuaiki campsite
* Napau campsite
* Namakanipaio Campgrounds and A-frame cabins
* Jaggar Museum (observation deck open but no rangers on duty)
* Additional closures may be warranted as Flossie nears

Kilauea Visitor Center will open Monday from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. with reduced staffing. Thurston Lava Tube will remain open. Volcano House and Kilauea Military Camp are open.

Statement from Mike McCartney,
Hawaii Tourism Authority president & CEO

The National Weather Service has placed Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island under a Tropical Storm Warning as Tropical Storm Flossie nears the Hawaiian Islands.

The storm is anticipated to hit the shores of Maui and Hawaii Island after midnight tonight and bring high winds and heavy rains.

We ask that all visitors and residents adhere to all warnings and alerts issued by the National Weather Service, Civil Defense and the counties.

Some airlines have begun announcing flight adjustments. Visitors should contact their airlines and hotels to confirm their travel plans.

The HTA will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and provide ongoing updates.

— Find out more:

NWS Infrared Satellite Image Loop

NWS Infrared Satellite Image Loop

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