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Tropical Storm Flossie loses strength in Hawaii

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By The Associated Press
Monday, July 29, 2013, 8:36 p.m.
 

HONOLULU — A tropical storm threatening Hawaii with wind and rain will weaken into a tropical depression within 24 hours, but forecasters on Monday were still warning residents and tourists to brace for possible flooding, wind gusts, mudslides and big waves.

Earlier, local television stations extended morning news, pre-empting syndicated daytime shows to cover the storm's approach.

But Tropical Storm Flossie faded through the morning, thanks to winds that broke the layers of the storm apart, said Tom Evans, acting director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Forecasters said the storm will now bring rain of as much as 6 inches on parts of the Big Island and up to 2 inches on other islands. The storm's 40 mph winds will continue to weaken, Evans said.

Residents and government officials began preparing on Sunday for the storm's arrival. College campuses and courts were closed on the Big Island, and the Red Cross was gathering volunteers to staff 24 shelters statewide.

The Coast Guard closed three ports — two on the Big Island where the storm was expected first and a third port on Maui. Airports statewide were open, but many flights were being canceled.

Trails and campgrounds were closed on the Big Island, where state officials warned people to avoid forest areas until Flossie clears.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed an emergency proclamation that allows the state to use its disaster fund to pay for staff overtime, supplies and other resources. The proclamation gives state officials the option to call Hawaii National Guard members to duty.

Officials warned people to cancel beach trips, finish necessary storm preparations and leave their homes if asked by local officials.

“I woke up to blue skies. It was just a beautiful day out,” Ian Shortridge, 22, of Kealakekua, on the west side of the Big Island, said. “It hasn't rained all morning. We are waiting for the rain.”

Shortridge said he saw McDonald's employees boarding up windows on Sunday. Store shelves were running low of essentials like bottled water and toilet paper, he said.

The center of the storm was about 90 miles northeast of Hilo on the Big Island on Monday morning.

Evans said tropical storm warnings will remain in effect for all of Hawaii's islands until Flossie is classified as a depression rather than a storm.

The warnings mean the storm represents a threat to life and property.

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