Felicia Weakens to Tropical Storm Near Hawaii

By: Michael White Email
By: Michael White Email

Hawaii braced for Tropical Storm Felicia on Sunday, taking no chances even though the storm weakened rapidly as it slipped toward the islands.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Sunday morning the storm had been downgraded to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 55 mph with higher gusts. It's expected to weaken even more before hitting Hawaii late Monday.

The Hurricane Center said the storm had a center about 555 miles east of Hilo and 735 miles east of Honolulu at 8 a.m. local time.

Parts of Hawaii were under a tropical storm watch. Several beach parks on Hawaii's Big Island were being closed Sunday afternoon because the storm was expected to increase wave heights. A building swell generated by the storm was expected to hit eastern shores of the eastern Hawaiian islands later Sunday, according to the Hurricane Center. Large surf is expected to spread to eastern shores of all islands Sunday night and Monday.

Felicia peaked Thursday as a Category 4 storm with winds topping 140 mph.

Residents stocked up on emergency items Saturday, crowding stores to buy water, batteries and other supplies. Propane was selling so quickly at The City Mill store in Oahu that the store's tank was being filled daily, according to KITV.

"Things are just flying out," said Vicki Lebowitz, manager of the store.

Retired school teacher Elsie Uechi was shopping for lanterns, water and canned meat.

"But I hope it passes, like always," Uechi told KITV. "Maybe we will be lucky again this time."

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