Hurricane Flossie buffets Hawaii

Hurricane Flossie was downgraded to a Category 2 disturbance as it moved towards Hawaii, while newly formed tropical storm Dean in the eastern Atlantic Ocean is forecast to become a hurricane by the end of the week.

Flossie, centred about 266 kilometres south of Hilo, was moving west-northwest at 16 kilometres per hour as of 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu said in an advisory on its website. The hurricane's sustained wind speed was 168 kilometres per hour, after earlier reaching 224 km/h and Category 4 status, Edmonton Journal reports.

“Despite the presence of cooler water, despite the strength of the winds aloft, despite what the computer forecast models have been saying, this thing has a mind of its own,” said Maui weather analyst Glenn James. “It just keeps coming on strong. Fortunately, it’s not taking aim directly at the middle of the state of Hawaii , but I wouldn’t want to be on South Point of the Big Island over the next 24 hours.”

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center advisory on Flossie, issued at 5 p.m. Monday, said it was expected to maintain the 120 mph winds over 24 hours, with hurricane-force winds extending out 40 miles and tropical-storm winds – winds from 39 to 74 mph – extending out another 140 miles.

For forecasters, the bigger concern was its continuing intensity. Computer models last week predicted Flossie would be reduced to a tropical storm by the time it reached the islands. The latest forecasts now expect Flossie to maintain hurricane strength through Thursday, informs Maui News.

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